Friday, July 29, 2016

Cry Havoc #6

Cry Havoc, Issue #6 is a title I somehow didn't get around to reading until this morning.  I patiently went to the comic book store every Wednesday for six months, buying the alternate cover, and reading it within a few days.  Don't get me wrong; Issue #6 is just as good as the first five issues.  I just had trouble getting started.  This issue contains the final battle between Good and Evil, the humans and the meta-humans, and the soldiers and the warlord.

At this point, all I have to do is recommend that trade paperback.  This is a graphically violent series, and there's a lot of nudity.  Most of all, I'd describe this series as "complex."  You can enjoy this series in trade paperback form by reading it once, but its best attribute is its re-readability.  There are a few things you won't catch the first time around, like an old Dovchenko film from the 1930s.  I love the reference to "our reptilian overlords," in the guise of the Shahmarans, although the intent of the usage of them isn't clear.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Mockingbird #5

Mockingbird, Issue #5 finally gets back to the zombies from Issue #1 that were looking at Bobbi Morse from behind the glass at the S.H.I.E.L.D. medical clinic.  It turns out that the virus Morse found in her blood that killed all those wild animals in Issue #4 has mutated.  Worse yet, the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have experimented with it, injecting it into corpses, which then come back to "life" and go after Bobbi Morse.  The good news?  There's an anti-viral, if she can get to it.

I'm a big fan of Issue #1 of Mockingbird, and this is the best issue to come out since then.  I particularly like the guide to the S.H.I.E.L.D. medical clinic.  The title on a whole is a rousing adventure, and it's funny.  The second half of the comic features Mockingbird trying to find the Research and Development Lab with Howard the Duck and Miles Morales.  The final scene is pretty awesome, but I won't give it away.  Looking forward to Issue #6.

Hyperion #5

Hyperion, Issue #5 starts a new arc.  Hyperion and Doll have destroyed/freed the power behind the Dark Carnival, and now they're on their own, riding the open roads on a new 18-wheeler.  Their first ordeal?  Speed dating.  And as the cover points out, Hyperion is somewhat successful in his new round of high-jinx, meeting a fellow super-being called Thundra, from Squadron Supreme.  She has news, that someone or something survived the Carnival.

I love the ending of this comic, with a third super-being shows up at Doll's hotel room.  I wasn't sure which Earth this series takes place in, but I'm guessing Earth-616?  (Yes, I am turning into a Marvel nerd.)  That means that it's kind of funny that Doll went looking for Hyperion on the open roads when there were so many other super heroes about.  Maybe there's something specific about Hyperion, something that she needed at the time.

This comic is done by a really good team.  Chuck Wendig I mentioned yesterday, in my review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Issue #2, but the artwork of Ario Anindito and colorist Romulo Fajardo (born in Indonesia and the Philippines, respectively) is a highlight.  I guess I like Hyperion because it's plain, good fun, starring a character I'm not that familiar with, but one that I instantly identified with.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens #2

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Issue #2 is the second of a five-issue limited series, adapting The Force Awakens into the comic-book world.  In Issue #2, Rey and Finn escape Jakku on the Millennium Falcon, only to be captured by Han Solo and Chewbacca, who are then captured by Bala-Tik and the KanjiKlub.  The issue ends with the ranthars loose and Finn about to be devoured by one of them.

I read three Star Wars series, The Force Awakens, Jason Aaron's Star Wars, and Charles Soule's Poe Dameron.  The adaptation of The Force Awakens is written by Chuck Wendig, with art by Luke Ross and Frank Martin, and lettering by VC's Clayton Cowles, whose lettering I'm a fan of.  Part of the reason I picked this title up is that Wendig writes Hyperion for Marvel, a title I've grown fond of.  Luke Ross has done some stuff I've read, and Frank Martin does the colors for East of West, which also came out with a new issue this week.

In short, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the comic, is realized by a great team, and it's a great adaptation.  My favorite part of this comic is the flashback after Finn and Rey find out that the man who has captured them is indeed Han Solo, the Republic General and smuggler.  I'm actually having more fun reading this adaptation than I did re-watching the movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The Punisher #3

The Punisher, Issue #3  starts with the DEA thinking they're closing in on Frank Castle.  Meanwhile, Castle is closing in on the compound where the bad guys live, where they create EMC, the super-soldier drug.  Unbeknownst to him, Josaiah has a surprise for the Punisher: the redneck's daughter is being used as a suicide bomber.  Also, a former veteran from Castle's Marine unit known as "the Face" is still at large.

I've given my appreciation to the artwork, the coloring and the lettering of this title in previous reviews, but there's one thing I noticed about the artwork, and that's the colors being used, military greens and beiges.  I also appreciate the way shadows and light are used on the characters' faces.  I'm hooked on the realism of this comic.  The antagonists are very well developed, but they're new.  The Punisher isn't out there fighting the Penguin and Lex Luthor.  This means that he can dispatch the new characters instead of them getting away every time, like a Batman cartoon from the 1990s, where they all end up in Arkham Asylum.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Spider-Man/Deadpool #7

Spider-Man/Deadpool, Issue #7 is styled as a shelved issue of Amazing Spider-Man from 1968 that hasn't seen the light of day until now.  It starts out with millionaire Edwin Bagge tormenting Jameson about the Daily Bugle headline that reads, "Convention Chaos?" saying, "I want the lazy youth of this country pacified until they can go be heroes in Vietnam!"  Okay, so I was hooked from page 1.  By page 4, I started to suspect that this couldn't have been written in 1968, and it wasn't.

Cheers to the deception, though.  The artwork and layout are a little too distressed, and that was a big giveaway.  Still, it's a wonderful comic and not one you'd do well to miss.  If you plan on buying the trade paperbacks, make sure that Issue #7 is included in one of them or else go out and buy this issue; it's a real gem.

Spider-Man #6

Spider-Man, Issue #6 begins with Miles Morales (Spider-Man) talking with Fabio Medina (the mutant Gold Balls), while a private investigator (Jessica Jones) watches.  The first half of the comic is about more prosaic activities: getting Gold Balls to fit in as their roommate, Miles's father convincing Miles's mother to convince Miles's grandmother to call off the investigator, Ganke trying to avoid the "friend zone."  Then Tony Stark (Iron Man) calls, and Miles Morales is Spider-Man, the Avenger, once again.  Civil War II is happening.  

I've avoided the Civil War II titles, mostly because I didn't exactly love the original Civil War.  Sure, I read quite a bit of it while hanging out with my nephews, but it wasn't special.  In fact, I didn't know what Civil War II was about until I read this comic, and I have to say I'm moderately intrigued.  Aw, shit.  I guess I will read through the Spider-Man telling of the events, along with the telling of the events through the eyes of Ms. Marvel in her comic.  

Monday, July 25, 2016

Poe Dameron #4

Star Wars: Poe Dameron, Issue #4 begins with Poe Dameron, hanging upside down, in front of a group of Hutts lead by Grakkus the Hutt, who features heavily in Jason Aaron's Star Wars, Issue #7 through Issue #12; he's a collector of Jedi lore, and somehow, he has survived his meeting with Darth Vader.  Earlier, Dameron is debriefing Black Squadron following the situation with the Galactic Egg in Issue #1 through Issue #3.  They're going after Grakkus the Hutt, who is still in prison.  Black Squadron is going to break in, and hopefully break out.

I'm currently reading three Star Wars titles on Marvel: this one, Aaron's Star Wars, and the comic adaptation of The Force Awakens.  All of them are very good, and as I mentioned earlier, they tie into each other.  I've written about my admiration of Soule's Agent Terex, although I don't see how he can lose repeatedly without looking like a nincompoop.  I also like Grakkus as a Hutt who is an expert in Jedi lore; Soule's inclusion of him in this comic is a nice piece of work.

Poe Dameron is my favorite of the three comics mentioned and at the same time my least favorite.  Its strength is also its weakness: most of the characters are invented, and it's easier to follow the adventure of characters I've worshiped for 40 years like Luke Skywalker and Han Solo.  This is a harder title to write, but I sort of think the writing is stronger.

An Entity Observes All Things

An Entity Observes All Things is a collection of short science-fiction stories told in graphic format.  They range from the mundane with fantastical settings to the abstract.  In the first story, a man relives the death of his father; the author, Box Brown, draws obvious inspiration from Philip K. Dick.  The title story, on the other hand, is a little more Stanislaw Lem.  Bebeshit is an alien entity living among sentient tulips who she cannot communicate with.  She observes the Earth and its inhabitants before escaping on a shooting star.

Definitely the best way to enjoy this book is one story at a time.  If you read the entire collection at once, it'll be too much to process, and you'll miss a lot.  The comics themselves are tri-colored, with black, white, and one other color, differing in each story.  The prose is a little turgid at times, swollen with sci-fi-isms, and that contributes to the reader needing rest between each story, although I think this is intentional, as Brown's book on Andre the Giant was much easier reading.

At 152 pages, An Entity Observes All Things is a neat little present to myself.  The title is sold out on, but it's available at the Retrofit store.  And like before, you'll not regret it if you buy the entire 2015 Retrofit catalog for $75.  This is a very cerebral comic, one I enjoyed immensely.  The comparisons to Philip K. Dick and Stanislaw Lem aren't made lightly.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Weavers #2

Weavers, Issue #2 starts with a shakedown that quickly turns deadly - for the Spiders.  Sid Thyme, the main character, steps outside at just the right moment, but steps inside to find trouble.  And if trouble weren't enough, the boss's girlfriend is making the moves on him.  This is just when he thought Frankie, the boss's daughter, was his only friend.  Worse yet, the Russians are going to war with the Spiders, and Sid's only way of surviving is "kill or be killed."  But what's his secret?

I had a little trouble finding this issue; I almost had to order it online.  The Wednesday before last, when I planned on buying Issue #2 and Issue #3, the Comics N' Stuff only had the latter.  Luckily, I was able to find the former at another store.  You know the drill, tons of Issue #1, scarcely any of Issue #2 and Issue #3.  This is a good title, though, and I like Simon Spurrier's writing.  The art and the coloring is on point, as it was in the last issue, but what got me was the lettering.  One of the higher-up members of the Spiders has the power to make people be quieter, and the talk bubbles seemed to fade out as he got near.  I can't wait for this to be used later on.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

She Wolf #2

She Wolf, Spell Number Two: Mirror Walking introduces a new character, the vampiress, Nikki, who is teaching the werewolf, Gabby, how to deal with her nightmares.  Then a full Moon comes out, and they fight, just like in a good supernatural teenage thriller.  Nikki's mother teaches Gabby how to avoid turning into the wolf, so things are a little more normal for her.  Or is it just a dream?  And what do Nikki and her mother mean when they say that the scratch from her ex-boyfriend isn't what turned her into a werewolf?  

Nikki is black, but she initially appears white because she wears pasty, white makeup to protect her from the sun.  Another thing I noticed is the setting.  There's a video-game arcade in the shopping mall with Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and Defender; this gives away the time frame.  Video-game popularity peaked in 1983, but by 1985, most of the arcades in malls had closed, as profits from video games dropped 97% in this period.  It wasn't until the 1990s that arcade games regained popularity, and that was overshadowed by home video-game systems and computer games.  

I like the way Tommaso uses light and shadows, like the white light on pretty much all the pages.  In Spell Number One, he bathes Gabby in the yellow moonlight.  In Spell Number Two, he takes her to Hell and to an Aztec-like fantasy before teaching her about herself and her family.  Reading this makes me want to go back to Spell Number One to see what I missed.  

Ink for Beginners

Ink for Beginners: A Comic Guide to Getting Tattooed is today's Retrofit/Big Planet comic.  It's available on Amazon for $4, and it's a nice little book that introduces the subject well.  I got my first tattoo six years ago (according to Facebook), of my son's name.  It's been three or four years since I got any new ink, so the book was good enough to reinvigorate my interest.  The last work I got done was a series of tattoos on my feet, including a reference to the poem, "Rime of the Ancient Mariner."  I've also wanted to get a ukulele with a palm tree, and add to my collection of sobriety medallions (I have nearly eight years sober but only two medallions inked).

The book is clever, short, and informative.  It warns potential inkers of the pitfalls of tattoos - getting them done by amateurs, getting them done hastily, not taking care of them.  I particularly like the cover, which has a bunch of typical small designs people get without thinking, such as skeleton butterflies, diamonds, stars, and flowers.

I particularly like tattoos of literature.  The tattoo on my foot is a take off of the poem "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  Right now, outside of comics, I'm reading In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust.  It'll take a good two or three months to read the seven-volume set, I bet, and maybe a tattoo would be a good way to commemorate the occasion.  I also plan on reading the graphic novel of the first volume, Swann's Way.  I've also thought of getting a Hesse, Nietszche, or Murakami tattoo.

Green Lanterns #3

Green Lanterns, Issue #3 is the story of new Green Lanterns, Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz, fighting the Red Lanterns, who have chosen Earth as their new homeworld.  Baz tries to be self-sufficient, but Cruz questions everything.  The leader of the Red Lanterns, Lord Atrocitus, sends Bleez, a powerful Red Lantern, to destroy Baz and Cruz.  The Green Lanterns are able to overcome great fear, and the Red Lanterns are able to feel great rage.  Both use power rings to create constructs.

This title is aimed at the Green Lantern fan.  Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps is the mainstream comic, but somehow, I ended up reading Green Lanterns and not Hal Jordan.  The reason?  I got hooked by Green Lanterns.  It's good writing and good artwork; it's a good title.  I wasn't really looking to start any new comics - even with the DC: Rebirth angle - but I like the Green Lanterns, and this was what I bought.  I guess I'm stuck with it.  Poor me.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Elf Cat in Love

Elf Cat in Love is my Retrofit Comic of the day.  It's the story of Elf Cat, a bipedal talking cat with a conical hat and a magic tennis ball that floats and talks.  No really, I'm reading this.  Elf Cat is accosted by a besmitten, giant snow princess; he fights with a dragon; and he finds the source of the wind.  Like the other Retrofit titles, it's fairly short, 15 minutes or so of your time.  Maybe I'm easily amused, but I was laughing for real during Chapter Three.

So, what do we call Elf Cat in Love?  Post-Absurdist?  Magical Surrealism?  The lettering and general layout of the book reminds me a little of Chester Brown, with obvious nods to Daniel Clowes and Jeff Smith.  If you want an idea of what his art is like, get a ComiXology Unlimited account and peruse James Kochalka's Little Paintings, which is 300 or so small paintings arranged six per page.  Of course, Kochalka's Elf Cat in Love is much different (in black-and-white instead of color, for one), but you get the general idea of what he does.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

One Piece, Vols. 13-14-15

One Piece: Baroque Works, Volumes 13-14-15 is a title I've put off reading for a good year.  In fact, I've been kinda' lagging when it comes to reading manga, sticking to rom-com titles like My Wife is Wagatsuma-san and Nisekoi: False Love.  Manga can be intimidating, like that good-looking 40-something woman who has a PhD on Plenty of Fish.  Most of it comes in 200-page tankobon titles, but to save money, I bought the first 24 volumes of One Piece in three-in-one volumes, which are nearly 600 pages each.  I've read a lot of 400-to-600-page manga volumes, but every time, there's that specter of intimidation.

Baroque Works is a group of criminals, some of whom pose as citizens in a village, welcoming new pirates to the Grand Line, only to get them drunk and take them prisoner.  Only Zolo, the three-sworded member of Luffy's crew sees through their deception, and he enters into a pitched battle with the Baroque Works.  The "Baroque Works" arc lasts from Volume 12 to Volume 23 or so, and most of the three-volume book takes place on an island called Little Garden, where dinosaurs and giants roam.

It's hard to pin down what makes One Piece so readable.  The drawings are beautiful, and there's a lot of action, often at the expense of dialogue.  Volume 13-14-15 took me about two hours to read, all-in-all, maybe a bit less.  Oda Eiichiro, the creator, writer, and artist of One Piece, keeps this title going by being so creative.  He's made a framework where various pirates and other people have eaten the Devil Fruit and gotten various powers.  Luffy, for instance, has eaten the gum-gum fruit.  He can stretch, but he loses the ability to swim.  Anyway, One Piece wouldn't have sold hundreds of millions of copies if it didn't have consistent quality.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Hellbound Lifestyle

Hellbound Lifestyle is a 76-page recording of the thoughts of Kaeleigh Forsyth, which she puts on notes on her phone.  The art, coloring, and lettering is by her friend, Alabaster Pizzo.  Forsyth ruminates on trying to build an Instagram following, growing older, dating, and generally being... how shall I put this?  Different?  Unique?  Meta-sane?  There are clear earmarks of mental illness, the type many people see.  I like how things go wrong in her life, but she doesn't go out of her way to fix them, the way "normal" people are supposed to.  Maybe Kaeleigh isn't so different after all.

The artwork is just as clever as the writing, using consistent coloring to create a homogeneous look throughout the volume.  In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if only 10 to 15 different colors are used, if not fewer.  The lettering is done in lower- and upper-case letters; it's clear and easy to read, but not so perfectly even that it's annoying, looking like it was typset or something.

Overall, I really liked the book.  I laughed out loud several times (which means I breathed through my nose slightly stronger than usual these days because who really laughs anymore? (shit, that sounds pathetic)).  In the digital world, there are the haves and the have-nots.  Kaeleigh deals with having no internet at home and half a doorknob on her bedroom door, but still wants to have hundreds of likes on Instagram, which doesn't happen.  The title mostly speaks of failure, in general, but it succeeds in doing so in a positive manner.  Freud said that when a woman tells a joke about another woman, there has to be some reflection upon the first woman for it to be funny, and I think they've achieved this.

Daredevil/The Punisher #3

Daredevil/The Punisher, Issue #3 starts out with the Punisher surrounded by the police and Antonov being escorted to JFK airport by Blindspot and Daredevil.  Antonov is a high-ranking gangster who orchestrated a mass murder to get rid of one of his competitors, and he has a trial in Texas.  Frank Castle wants to kill him, but Daredevil and Blindspot have to protect him from not only the Punisher and the goons hired to help Antonov escape, but a man wearing the Soviet armor of the Crimson Dynamo.

This is the third issue in a neat, little four-issue arc.  In Issue #2, Daredevil is having thoughts that maybe Frank is right, and in Issue #3, Blindspot is putting those thoughts into words.  Daredevil has to overcome the temptation to let Antonov die.  I particularly like the introduction of a fourth super-powered agent in the Crimson Dynamo, forcing Daredevil and the Punisher to temporarily work together.

This is a dark comic, almost a noir superhero story.  Just leafing through it, I see a lot of black everywhere.  The three main protagonists have all had thoughts of just offing Antonov, and Castle is doing his damnest to do just that.  There's of course the superhero code, in which you never kill anyone, but that gets broken from time to time.  I'm wondering if this is one of those times.  At the end of Batman Begins, Batman says that his code of honor prohibits him from killing R'as Al Ghul, but it doesn't prohibit him from letting R'as die.  And of course, you have Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics, which state that a robot shall not through in action let a human being come to harm.  Right now, Blindspot and Daredevil are doing their best to keep Antonov alive, but that might change in the next issue.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Dumb #1+2

Dumb #1 & 2 by georgia webber

Dumb #1+2 is a two-issue publication I got with my Retrofit Comics subscription, and it deals with vocal injury.  In addition to the comics by Georgia Webber, there's a prose introduction to each issue by a different author on a variety of subjects relating to voice.  Issue #1 has a piece about keeping one's voice in good working order, and Issue #2 starts with a bit about black metal vocals.  The rest is the story of how Webber lost her voice due to injury, and how she deals with it.  The story is continued in Issue #3 through Issue #8 or so, the last three of which are forthcoming.

I used to be a piano teacher.  My credential is in math and music, and I have a rhetoric and writing background, so I tutor a lot of subjects.  At one point, I tried to make a go of it as a piano teacher, getting about 10 students in addition to the 20 or so math and English students I had.  Teaching music puts an incredible strain on the voice because you're always singing the parts you want your student to play, often in the falsetto range.  Long story short, I found myself injured and had to give up the dream.  10 years earlier, I had a throat infection that caused some damage, and that played a part.  I love singing, but I had to give that up about a year ago, although this weekend, a friend asked me if I'd teach her son the keyboards.  I said, "yes."

You can buy Issue #1 through Issue #5 and pre-order Issue #6 through Issue #8 here for $10 per issue in print or $2 per issue in PDF. Or, you can buy Issue #1+2 here for $8 in print or $4 in PDF.  For $75 at the second website, you can buy the entire 2015 Retrofit catalog in print.

Descender #13

Descender, Issue #13 focuses on Captain Tellsa, who is in charge of bringing in Dr. Quon and Tim-21.  She's one of the main characters bundled together with Tim-21 on the Machine Moon at the present, and she's the daughter of General Nagoki, the head of the UGC.  Starting with her childhood, 10 years earlier, at the time of the attack of the Harvesters, it moves into her young adulthood, when she is determined to join the UGC military, so determined that she is ready to change her identity.

At the end of the issue, the narration returns to the current story, which changes dramatically, but the bulk of the issue is dedicated to Telsa (don't spell it T-E-S-L-A!), and it's a good one.  She is a unique character, with her fiery red hair and her black eyes.  I love this issue because it humanizes Telsa, who had previously been a very unsympathetic character.

The Violent #5

The Violent #5

The Violent: Blood Like Tar, Chapter 5 is the end of the Mason, Becky, and Kaitlyn story.  Mason has killed two people, and he's trying to convince Becky that they should find their daughter, take her, and run.  This leaves Becky with a choice: will she take Kaitlyn and run off with Mason, or will she run in the opposite direction?  Like usual, this is a gritty, no-nonsense series about an underworld family trying to make a go of it in Vancouver.

The Violent, Volume 1 comes out in September, 2016 on Image Comics, and although there are plans for a second arc set in 1986 and featuring a 13-year-old Jesse McPhearson (the drug dealer who is killed in the first or second issue), sales haven't been high enough to warrant a second arc on Image Comics.  The next five issues will probably be published in digital-only format before being published as trade paperbacks.  With any luck, there'll be a third arc and a fourth.

I love the realistic portrayal of violence and drug use.  I've been sober for almost eight years, and September 18, 2008 is my sobriety date.  I never got into drugs, even much marijuana, but I've been around them in the past.  Scratch that, I was on Percocet and Vicodin for four months (2006 or so), although I never abused it, so I know what it's like to try to rebuild.  I was lucky enough to fall into a good job right after I got off it, but I can remember what it was like to be off those drugs.  My energy was gone, I was always in pain, and I was drinking.  Anyway, good luck to the creators in making the second arc happen, Running With the Devil.  I'll be reading.

The Woods #24

The Woods, Issue #24 ends Year Two, or the sixth book, if you're reading them that way.  It starts out with Calder having a drug-fueled hallucination about taking Karen to the prom but quickly dissolves into reality.  Issue #23 ended with Calder pretending to be Casey, who is a leading member of the Hordes.  The Hordes have kept the students that remained with them hostage, training them to fight and not letting them escape.  Now, Calder is there to help them get out.

Year One ended with a death or two, but I wasn't ready for what happened at the end of Year Two.  That's what good stories do to you; they break your heart.  The Woods was only supposed to be 24 issues, but it looks like it's going to go on to 36 issues.  Year Three starts soon, and for those of you that haven't read it yet, give the first four issues a try on ComiXology Unlimited.  The cheapest way to keep up with The Woods is to read it on ComiXology, as the old issues are only $1.99, with the last two or so running $3.99.  You can read Issue #1 through Issue #22 for $36 if you have a ComiXology Unlimited account.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Old Man Logan #8

Old Man Logan, Issue #8 begins with a teaser of the Villains Uprising in Old Man Logan's universe before returning to X-Haven, away from where the Wolverine of the Marvel universe (Earth-616) is interred in adamantium and away from the child who would maybe become his wife in another universe.  At X-Haven, he is visited by Jean Grey, who helps him make it through another rough night.  What she and he do is the basic story of this one-shot issue.

I particularly like the cover of this issue by Sorrentino and Maiolo, which is reminiscent of Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe and The Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe, only it's in the universe where Old Man Logan is from.  He basically does kill the Marvel universe because Mysterio and the others used some sort of mind control or persuasion to get him to kill all the X-Men.  The cover is a nice homage to those stories.

The next story is called, "The Fall of Japan," and I'm excited about it.  Issue #8 is a transitional story between Old Man Logan as a loner roaming around, getting into fights, and Old Man Logan as the X-Men member, Wolverine again.  What makes this series good is the way Old Man Logan's character changes through the various arcs.  In just eight issues, he's gone from being a quiet farmer to a avenging demon to a lonely Canadian to an X-Men member.

Late Bloomer

Late Bloomer is Mare Odomo's experimental comic.  Consisting of a variety of one-page pencil drawings, ranging from a blank page with a few words written in it and then crossed out to deep, detailed images speaking of loneliness, despair, and adolescent angst.  Many of the drawings are the type you'd see in a student's notebook, many are the type that same student wishes she could draw, particularly the landscapes and the images of people and plants.

I recently subscribed to Retrofit Comics; they come out with a new title each month, and I hope to review the back-ordered ones I got in the mail today, some 20 issues, plus two stickers, a patch, and a bag.  You can also buy this comic 104-page comic for $10 on  The question is, should you?  I love this sort of comic, and I love supporting the artists.  I'm no art major, but there are a few filmmakers that this reminds me of, in particular, David Lynch (his experimental films) and the early Soviet filmmakers, the latter of whom were more concerned with images than with telling a cogent story.

A lot of the people who hated Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me tried to understand that film, when there's nothing really to understand.  It's the same with Late Bloomer.  If you look too hard for meaning in it, you'll miss the imagery, the poetry of drawings.  It was the first book I picked up of my Retrofit package that came in the mail.  I've read it twice so far, and I don't think I'll open a second Retrofit comic today.  There's simply too much to process.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

She Wolf #1

She Wolf, Spell Number One is a dream-like werewolf story.  Gabrielle Cullen is attacked by her boyfriend, Brian, who has turned into a wolf.  The police track him down and shoot him because he's been running the streets, causing problems (#WLM), despite the fact that she tells them not to.  She's blamed for the death by the boy's family, who try to get her removed from the local high school.

I like the Little Red Riding Hood reference on pages 7 through 13, with the Big Bad Wolf eating the grandmother while telling Gabby, "you're next."  There's also a reference to a kid's game on pages 14 and 15 where you say, "Bloody Mary," three times into a mirror, and a ghost will appear.  I also like how she receives counselling sessions from a priest.  There are a number of themes.  Gabby dresses in black with a pentagram necklace, but this is only a fashion; I remember doing the same back in the 1980s, with the upside-down cross earring and the attitude.

There's quite a bit I like about this comic.  It's raw; it doesn't look like so many other comics.  In particular, the bathing of the yellow moonlight on the characters on pages 3 through 7.  Also on page 7, there's a shift from the murder at night to the quotidian routine at the school, perhaps the next day.  The Sun is the same color as the Moon on this page.  Recommended.

Weavers #1

Weavers, Issue #1 (of Six) asks the question: what happens when the people who get the super powers use those powers for evil?  The Weavers are a street gang that have the powers of spiders.  Sid Thyme is the newboy in the gang.  He doesn't know how to use his powers, and he's unsure of himself.  The rest of the gang is unsure of him.  When one Weaver dies, another one gets made, so Sid is put in the place of one of their best members.  So, what's the twist?  Is Sid a cop?  Who killed the boss's sister?

This title has presence, atmosphere.  It's scary.  I picked up Five Nights at Freddy's IV off Steam for $2.71 (the sale ends July 15, 2016).  It's not a great game, but it's got a lot of the same feeling to it.  It awakens visceral emotions of fear and dread.  You look around the room with the flashlight, knowing something's going to jump out at you, but you just can't stop.

I bought the title because of Simon Spurrier; Cry Havoc is a great limited series that just ended with Image Comics.  Weavers is published by Boom! Studios, and I have to say that the major independent labels of IDW, Boom! Studios, Dark Horse, and Image are putting out top title after top title.  I pull out the occasional Marvel or DC title from time to time, but what Marvel is doing more than DC is co-opting the independent artists and allowing them to build their own work without overly heavy editing and direction.

Weavers shows that some of the better comic creators are still active in the independent comic world.  The illustrations by Dylan Burnett are of course a highlight, but I love how detailed the coloring by Triona Farrell is.  The red and blue-green used on the cover work very well together, as do the various color schemes throughout the issue.  Finally, the lettering is good.  I tend to like a lot of bolds and italics used withn the dialogue to engender emotion and stress on certain words, especially when there's a middling amount of dialogue.  When everyone's talking, seeing bold and italic font everywhere just makes it hard to read.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

3 Devils #4

3 Devils, Issue #4 reintroduces the bounty killer from Issue #3.  His bounty this time?  Marcus and Tara, who are on the run.  They have come across a traveling circus of sorts, where they rescue a wolf-boy being kept in the circus under horrific conditions.  It's a nice combination of a one-off story and the furtherance of the overall story.  Oliver, the wolf-boy, seems to have become a permanent fixture in this series.

I'm hoping this series will run to at least 12 issues, maybe more.  Now that the 100+issue run of Gray/Palmotti's Jonah Hex is at an end, there aren't many Western comics out there that I can think of.  What makes the supernatural element of the comic interesting is that the monsters are straight out of the 19th century.  The main antagonist is a vampire, there's a werewolf, and Marcus is a Caribbean-styled zombie of sorts.  While I do like Tara and the gang, there's no one with the personality of Jonah Hex, but that's a character that's been around for four decades.  Who knows, maybe Marcus, Oliver, and Tara will be around for that long.

Power Lines #3

Power Lines, Issue #3 is another series I didn't know if I'd continue reading.  It's good enough, but I'm having to do three blog entries a day to catch up with the current comics.  Why don't I just read for fun and not blog about it?  I just don't know how.  I started reading comics three years ago, and I've written about every single thing I've written since the second or third month.  The two to four novels I read a month only get a few sentences on my Facebook page, and I think I've only reviewed a novel or two since I started this blog earlier in the year.

Taking place in the Bay Area, Power Lines is about a young, black hoodlum from the Iron Triangle who has super powers in Benicia (he's the Eagle), and a racist, white mother who has super powers in the Iron Triangle (she's the Hummingbird).  All the while, two Native Americans are watching them, as are the media.  One of the Native Americans is called the Coyote, and he's a Trickster.  There are other "animals," including the Old Bear and a talking Crow, but none of them have extraordinary physical powers.

I love how Jimmie Robinson excels at all aspects of comic book making.  He could get work as a writer, an artist, and a color artist, but instead, he does all three jobs on this one title, like a Japanese manga artist.  He isn't one of my absolute favorite letterers like Rus Wooton, but he gives himself a difficult job in lettering this title: there's a lot of dialogue.  He uses slightly thinner lines in the lettering than I'm used to seeing (I'm no expert), but this is necessary due to the aforementioned dialogue.

Issue #3 is an especially good issue of Power Lines, one that I regret putting off reading as long as I did.  It's not a "black" comic, a "white" comic or even really a "Native American" comic.  It does play with stereotypes, and there's even the occasional grain of truth in the tirades of "Mrs. Fox News."  You can see how angry the three main characters are, although the Coyote is the only one who's out-and-out evil, attacking random tourists and trying to kill off the Hummingbird and the Eagle just so his bloodline remains pure.

Hyperion #3 and #4

Hyperion, Issue #3 and Issue #4 I'm combining into one review because I'm simply behind on my weekly comic book readings.  Hyperion is one of the titles that was on the bubble for me; I don't really look forward to it, but I generally enjoy it when I do read it.  It's pretty simple.  There's a damsel in distress - Doll -  and a reluctant hero from another universe - Hyperion.  She scoured the country trying to find him because she was in trouble with a carnival that coveted her for her powers.

Issue #3 starts off from the cliffhanger in Issue #2; some strange worm-creature has attacked Hyperion.  The creature's identity is revealed at the end of Issue #3, along with its connection to Doll, the Janitor, and the carnival.  Also, there's a look at Doll's background and her connection to the Janitor.  Issue #3 ends with (and Issue #4 begins with) Hyperion confronting the Janitor, so there's a big battle.  But first, there's a look at what made Hyperion, Hyperion.  His father taught him truth without compromise, but he compromised.  His father taught him thought without error, but he made errors.  His father taught him all things for the betterment of the whole, but he's beginning to realize that he couldn't uphold that precept.

Hyperion (2016) #4Hyperion comes from Earth-13034, and he's made his way to another Earth, where he hoped to be the Earth's savior.  He found himself unable to do any of the sort, so he became a truck driver before being discovered by Doll.  One of the many thing I like about this comic is how Doll changes Hyperion, even over the course of just four issues.  He now lives to help one person at a time.  This reminds me of the interplay between Luke Skywalker and Joruus C'baoth in Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire.  C'baoth, the insane clone of an old Jedi Master from the Clone Wars, rules a planet as King.  Luke realizes that he's batshit crazy, but an old line from Obi Wan Kenobi sticks in his head, to not forget about individual people when you're out saving the galaxy and everything.

DK III, Book One

DK III: The Master Race, Book One is the beginning of one of the most popular series of 2015 and 2016.  Here's why: in 1986, Frank Miller penned one of the greatest Batman stories of all time, The Dark Knight Returns.  Yes, 2001's The Dark Knight Strikes Again was a disappointment, as has much of Miller's work in the past 15 years, but this title has a buzz about it, perhaps because it's co-authored by Brian Azzarello or perhaps because the all-star art team of Andy Kubert, Klaus Janson, and Brad Anderson are behind the two (there will be a rotating cast of artists).

The story starts out with an unknown person in the Bat-Cave, stealing the Bat-Suit.  Batman intervenes on behalf of a criminal who's about to be shot by the police.  The reaction is pure 2015.  The evening news reacts to grainy, unclear photos all while speculating on whether the perp should have surrendered immediately instead of risking being shot or beaten.  This is an oversimplification of the story which includes the entire DC Universe.  Wonder Woman and Superman have a couple of kids.  The Atom has his own mini-comic.  Lots of people died.

DK III, Book One costs $5.99, but it's totally worth it.  The stock on the cover and the paper is of exceptional quality.  For the first time in my life, I've felt bad about getting fingerprints all over a comic.  The mini-comic, drawn and written by Frank Miller, is in a style similar to the rest of the comic, with a few minor differences.  It's a little more noir and a little less grandiose.  I'm excited about the series, and it sold millions of copies because it's good, not just because of hipster love for the Frank Miller brand.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Deadpool V Gambit #2

Deadpool V Gambit: The "V" Is for "Vs.", Issue #2 sees the Merc With a Mouth and "That Cajun Dude Who Also Has a Mouth" teaming up, this time.  They are also teaming up with Chalmers, the man who ripped them off (perhaps) the last time they worked together.  The three of them are running a long con, which means that while small details are handed out in this issue (trying to get Lai's fingerprints by befriending him at the Boil n' Brawl), the overall story comes through as the end, with the usual twist.

I found Issue #2 a lot more satisfying than Issue #1 because it has a self-contained story that continues with Issue #3.  The con develops, the action begins, and the trap is sprung; it's a modern-day version of The Sting or Iceberg Slim's The Long White Con, the later of which was only a little disappointing in film form.  My only complaint is that this is basically a Deadpool comic so far, without enough of Gambit's rich personality and history.  It's a very detailed comic, with the classic breaking of the fourth wall and references to other comics and popular music.

I'm looking forward to the next issue, which promises a fight between Lai and Deadpool, but what makes this such a strong comic is the fluid nature of the alliances.  Yes, this is a step above the "buddy cop" TV shows of the 1960s and 1970s because Gambit might run away with millions of dollars and/or the prized Dragon's Tongue.  Or maybe Chalmers will.  Or maybe Deadpool will.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Spider-Man #5

Spider-Man, Issue #5 starts off with Miles Morales as Spider-Man being held captive by Hammerhead, who was hired to capture the new Spider-Man by the Black Cat.  Issue #5 opens with Fabio, the X-Men member known as Goldballs, becoming roommates with Ganke and the absent Miles.  In Issue #4, Ganke told Fabio that Miles is Spider-Man.  Meanwhile, Miles's mother and grandmother want to know what Miles is up to, so they hire a private investigator, Jessica Jones.  And don't forget, he has to escape from the clutches of the Black Cat.

There's quite a bit going on in this episode.  It involves a criminal organization which isn't named, S.H.I.E.L.D., the Avengers, and a few others that are hard to keep track of.  One aspect of this comic which has always eluded me is Miles Morales's origin story.  Is he the Miles Morales from the Ultimate Spider-Man universe or simply another Miles Morales in another universe?  The Amazing Spider-Man universe's Peter Parker does talk about looking up Miles Morales after transporting to the Ultimate Spider-Man universe in Spider-Men.  The opening material suggests that the radioactive spider that bit Miles was stolen, perhaps by Miles's father.  Anyway, this story is heating up.  Keep reading to find out more.  

Green Lanterns #2

Green Lanterns, Issue #2 begins on Ysmault, the home planet of the Red Lanterns.  The different colored Lanterns came about under Geoff Johns's 4000-page run on Green Lantern, continuing into the New 52.  The Red Lanterns channel their rage to create power.  Throughout the eight-year existence of the Red Lanterns in DC Comics, they've been complicated characters, but here, they want to create a new Ysmault, on Earth.  The only people who can stop them are the Green Lanterns Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz.  Jessica Cruz is new to me, but Simon Baz showed up at the end of Geoff Johns's series.

Jessica Cruz was a home-bound recluse when the Green Lantern ring picked her, saying, "you have the ability to overcome great fear."  There's a great amount of this issue dedicated to Cruz overcoming her fear, developing the willpower.  At the same time, there are the Red Lanterns taking over the Earth.  Simon Baz was a falsely accused terrorist in Guantanamo Bay when the Green Lantern ring picked him.  I've always been fond of his character, and Jessica Cruz is growing on me.

East of West #27

East of West, Issue #27 continues the meeting of the Chosen, and the gathering of an army of believers.  Antonia, the President of the Union, objects that such a ramshackle group of the poor and unwashed would make up the army of End Times, but Ezra Orion has taken control of the Chosen, and demands subservience.  Reading about the meeting of the Chosen is a lot like watching a "contract signing" on a wrestling show.  You know they're going to fight.

This issue is downright terrifying.  The hordes of Dionysian warriors trying to wipe out the Chosen, characters that mean nothing trying to destroy all the great characters of this series: it is horrifying.  It's not really what I expected, of course.  I expected the Chosen to destroy each other, as they have been threatening and even trying to do for the past 26 issues.  I just wonder who is going to survive Issue #28.

A fellow comics reader asked me what makes good lettering, and I pulled out this comic without thinking.  Rus Wooton is my favorite letterer, and this issue illustrates why.  He uses upper/lowercase printing, reminiscent of a nice sans-serif font, with italics, bolds, and different sizes of texts to construe the emotions of the speakers.  More importantly, Wooton makes a dialogue-heavy comic easy on the eye, readable, and that's what it's all about.

Empress #4

Empress, Issue #4 starts off with the Empress, Dane, and the rest still marooned on a dusty junk world.  They can't leave because their ship has to be able to "see" outward, and the dust is preventing it from teleporting them to another planet, at least temporarily.  The adults get separated from the children when Red Cobb and Sailor Jank, a scrap family, capture all of them.  In this sparsely dialogued and beautifully drawn issue, the adults escape temporarily, although they find themselves in more danger, and they don't know where the children are.

The artwork by Stuart Immodnen, Wade von Grawbadger, and Ive Svorcina is nothing but stunning, as I've mentioned in my reviews of Issue #1 through Issue #3.  Every time a new issue comes out, I can only fawn over it.  I'm guessing that the first arc has only an issue or two left before the second arc begins.  The second arc, I think, will be about what happens when the Empress is reunited with her sister.  Also, the end of the galactic empire must be coming to a close because the empire's seat is on Earth, and the Earth (65 million years ago) is about to be hit by a giant asteroid.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

A Spoon Too Short #4 and #5

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency: A Spoon Too Short, Issue #4 and Issue #5 came in the mail today, and I couldn't be happier.  My local comic book store sold out on Issue #4 before I could purchase it, so I just waited until #5 came out and ordered both online.  Thrilling stuff, I'm sure.  From what I've read, the series hasn't been overwhelmingly positive, selling a few thousand copies per issue, but I think that's because where A = weekly comic readers and B = Douglas Adams fanatics, AB is huge, while AB has yet to see growth to its full potential.  Fear not, members of ABC, where C = math nerds, for the paperback is sure to outsell the comics.  You can pre-order it right here, on

Issue #4 begins with another flashback to Dirk Gently's youth, when as a college student, he plays on the superstitious nature of college students.  Like the mean, nasty general the of course appears at the end of the flashback, the college students think Dirk is psychic.  Back in Africa, Dirk has somehow acquired aphrodisiacs, namely oysters and lobster, in the middle of the Bush.  How he intends to use them is something only Dirk could come up with.  Issue #5 has Dirk interrogating the aliens.  Why?  Because aliens.  And the noses of rhinoceres.  And the dimensions therein.  It's all quite silly and fun, with Issue #5 ending in a 10-page coda about the London Zoo, where Dirk Gently is on a date.

I've had a lot of fun reading these adventures, and I look forward to reading more Dirk Gently in October, when a new series starts.  I've been quite taken with all the aspects of this comics, from Arvind Ethan David's writing to the fantastic Africascapes of Ilias Kyriazis and Charlie Kirchoff.  I'm not much of a TV watcher, but the new Dirk Gently TV show, also coming out in October, might get a view from me.

The Experts

The Experts is a short, bizarre comic by Sophie Franz on Retrofit Comics.  Cheron, Traci, and Frankie, along with a dog named the Colonel, are the experts, three researchers who don't remember what they're researching and don't even remember what their skills are.  They're on a floating house surrounded by aquatic people who might even be former researchers, themselves.  Frankie has the head of a fish, and Cheron has a finger that's growing back differently after being bitten off by one of the aquatic people.

A lot of the comics I read, I also lend to my father and stepmother to read.  My stepmother tends to read everything at a surface level the first time around, and she often picks up things that I miss (I recently reviewed Drawn Onward by Matt Madden without realizing that the title is a palindrome).  My father, on the other hand, sometimes looks too hard for metaphors.  I'm the most visual of the three, and I'm haunted by images and quotations, such as the improbably dilated eye of the Colonel, how fish-like he looks.  "Everything is coming apart at the seams," says Traci after Cheron's disappearance.  Frankie escapes, suddenly becoming less fish-like, but Traci stays for some reason.

The three of them are in a hopeless situation, and the solution seems to be either to leave and get better or stay and get worse.  I can only wonder whether Franz was in a similar situation at some point in her life and if she's trying to convey that sort of hopelessness onto her readers.  Either way, I'm hooked on Retrofit comics.  I've ordered their entire 2015 and 2016 catalogs.

Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe

Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe is a comic I bought for my 12-year-old nephew, Dylan.  Of course, it comes with the "Parental Advisory!  NOT for Kids!" warning, so I had to read it first.  The sacrifices of being an uncle, I know.  See, the great part of an "R" rating for the Deadpool movie from a financial point of view is that kids who aren't allowed to watch the movie are generally allowed to buy the comics, and they have in droves.  Although this does carry a parental advisory, it does so because the good guys (and bad guys) die, and not because there is any sexuality.  The story?  Deadpool, in one of the many alternate universes, gets to kill everyone, just like The Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe, only funny.

This is a fun and clever title, although I don't know if I'd have picked it up for myself.  I never saw the movie, Deadpool, because I just don't watch movies that much.  I have read a few Deadpool comics, most notably the current Spiderman/Deadpool, which is very good, but quite frankly, there's too much stuff out there for me to read, and I generally don't have time to go through it all.  I generally only pick up Marvel titles if one of my favorite writers is on the job, and writer Cullen Bunn and artist Dalibor Talajic weren't on my radar.  They definitely are now.