Thursday, December 29, 2016


Theth by josh bayer

Theth is a title I picked out of my giant pile of Christmas comics.  The pick was totally random, but I happened to have read a long article on Josh Bayer in Study Group Magazine, Issue #2, an article which piqued my interest in the creator.  The pick was a fortunate one.  Seth is a 1980 misfit, wearing a spacesuit everywhere he goes and living with his stepmother, who insists that he call her "Mom."  The other students call him "Theth," and he spends his time at the general store, where he never buys  the comics, just reading them for free.  The day John Lennon is killed, a stranger tells Seth that he can just steal what he wants, just take it.

Bayer's style is unique, with powerful lines; it's so cartoony, for lack of a better word, primal, alive.  His work has been compared with punk rock, but to me, it's more like the free jazz from an unpronounceable Nordic city in the heart of winter.  All apologies to punk rockers aside, there's a lot more technique to free jazz than there is to punk rock, at least in punk rock's original form.  The story is as primal as the art, just a boy who can't fit in.

Theth is something akin to a painting, a long one.  At 80 pages, it took me almost an hour to read, although in typical fashion, I did have wrestling on in the background, multitasking.  What makes Theth great is all the unanswered questions.  Why does Seth wear a spacesuit?  Where is his dad?  How old is he exactly?  I could go on, but I would be revealing too much.  I'm not a mean person, but I felt the urge to call Seth "Theth," myself.  He's so... different.  We're told that we should love the different ones - the artists, the poets, the philosophers - but we also want to punch them, too.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Planetes Omnibus, Vol. 1

Image result for Planetes Omnibus, Vol. 1

Planetes Omnibus, Volume 1 is a hard science-fiction epic I received as a present from my sister and her family for Christmas.  The book is 525 pages broken up into 12 chapters of about 45 pages each.  Most of the chapters are fairly self contained, with an overall story advancing.  Planetes is mostly the story of a crew of waste disposal experts aboard the DS-12.  Fee is their leader, although only one of the chapters really centers around her.  As the omnibus progresses, the story revolves more and more around Hachimaki, a driven astronaut who dreams of joining the Jupiter mission.

Some great manga was produced around the turn of the century: One Piece, Planetes, Hunter x Hunter, 20th Century Boys, and Old Boy are just a few examples.  Sure, there are a few dated examples.  The low-rent astronauts all smoke cigarettes, especially the Japanese ones.  By the year 2075 when the story takes place, smoking will have been replaced by vaping, and I can't imagine smoking taking place in space.  Even 50 years ago, Gene Roddenberry foretold of a future that didn't smoke.

I read the first third of this gigantic tomb last night, hoping that maybe I'd get through it in a week, but once I got into the heart of the story, I couldn't put it down.  I'll have to dig up $13 or $14 to buy Volume 2, which finishes the story, as soon as possible.  The art and characterization are really top notch, but it's the drama and the situations that make this manga for me.  Hachimaki going from literally being a space janitor to applying for the greatest space mission in the history of humankind - going to Jupiter to mine for Helium-3 - is the epitome of hubris, and I can't wait to find out if he actually makes it there.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Babybel Wax Bodysuit

Babybel wax bodysuit by eric kostiuk williams

Babybel Wax Bodysuit is my Retrofit Comic of the day, a surreal 20 pages with seven distinct stories, most lasting a few pages and the last one lasting eight pages. The imagery is unforgettable, such as a group of KKK members being led by the Grand Dragon riding a giant bug and a man climbing a ladder to jump into a TV set. I particularly like "The Literal World," a story presumably about the author and his friendship with a fellow comic book fan who happens to be on the right side of the political spectrum.

The nods to R. Crumb are obvious, in particular the bean-shaped body without a head. There is also a mention of Keith Haring, along with the figures that feature prominently in his work. The comic is an emotional roller coaster, including brutal honesty side-by-side with elements of fantasy. It took me a few pages to really get into; it isn't an "easy" comic. There is so much to see and read on each page that it's hard not to feel overwhelmed. But it's worth it.

The Punisher #7


The Punisher, Issue #7 is the final comic with art by Steve Dillon, who passed away recently. The comic opens up at Agent Henderson's grave, the significance of which is rather spooky. There are questions as to whether or not Frank Castle is still alive, But a few pages in, he emerges from warm, ready to kill. He comes across to thugs looking for him, they shoot up with EMC, and the three of them get into an all-out brawl. It's classic Punisher.

This is the bloodiest and most violent issue yet from this team, and I hope the comic does go on in some form as I've been big fan of Becky Cloonan's writing on this series. Steve Dillon, of course, has a long history in comics and The Punisher. Like most fan I became aware of his work when I read Preacher. Just remember, if something really hurt, then there might be something really wrong. Don't try to tough it out.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Study Group Magazine #2

Image result for study group comics magazine #2

Study Group Magazine, Issue #2 came in the mail today, and I couldn't be happier. I put on my favorite art-rock piece, "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" by Elton John, and started reading. I got through the entire album side before I got through even a fifth of the magazine. There is so much to see and read; it's a mix of comics and prose articles about comic makers, including several interviews.

I first became acquainted with Study Group Magazine when I started buying Titan, and the friendly comics book retailer told me about the magazine series. I went to the Study Group website powered by Storenvy and got a number of items, including Power Button #0, which I've already reviewed (the stuff I ordered came in two shipments) and Issue #2 through Issue #4 of the magazine, which came today.

My sister and a few friends live up in Portland, hanging around the local and national punk/folk/DIY scene.  The talent of those nomad punk rockers can be off the charts, just like the talent of the lesser-known comics who publish their work in Retrofit, Study Group, and all the others.  I don't know, but to some of us, those lesser-known comics are special (my favorite is still Cowboys and Insects).  I also got a couple of Retrofit comics in the mail today, so I'll be reviewing those when I get the energy.

Green Lanterns #13

Green Lanterns, Issue #13 begins with the story of Volthoom, the First Lantern. Starting 10 billion years ago, the Guardians of the Universe created the Green Lanterns to stand against him. Rami, the Guardian of the Universe from the last few issues, created the Green Lantern Rings. Fast forward to today, Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz are battling the Phantom Lantern, Frank Laminski. Using the two Green Lanterns' own fears against them he is in effect a Yellow Lantern.

I'm a big fan of the Phantom Lantern arc. I'm a Green Lantern fan in general because of a few things: I love the grandiose nature of the comic, I like the fact that the Green Lanterns draw on themselves for power, and I really became a fan of this series when Geoff Johns took the helm. This particular iteration has been consistently good and easy to read.

Street Dawgz


Street Dawgz is a 24-page black-and-white mini comic 4" x 6" with six panels per page. It stars for dogs that live in cardboard box, eat crack bones, and generally cause trouble. They are self-aware, and somewhat philosophical. One of the dogs eats too many crack bones, and his musings are so insightful that the other dogs grabbed a pen try to write them down. There is a joke about the immigrant crisis with a fox representing one of the immigrants.

Lizz Lunney is the author and artists; she is of British extraction, living in Berlin. There are 21 million refugees in the world, and many of them come to "first-world" countries as immigrants. The fox speaks a very British dialect despite being an immigrant. The use of different animals to represent different nationalities goes back hundreds of years in comics. This technique was most famously used in Maus by Art Spiegelman.

Invincible Iron Man #2 (2016)


Invincible Iron Man, Issue #2 begins with a revelation: Tony Stark is alive, sort of.  We've known for some time two things, that Tony Stark dies in Civil War II and that Tony Stark can download his consciousness into a computer.  Invincible Iron Man is the consequence of both of those things having occurred, just as Infamous Iron Man (also 2016) is the story of Doctor Doom stealing Tony Stark's armor and becoming a superhero, of sorts.  Riri Williams is a genius teenage inventor who creates her own iron suit to fight crime.  By the end of the series, I'm guessing she's wearing one of Tony Stark's Iron Man outfits.

In my review of Nova, Issue #1, I said that I only read three "teenage" superheroes: The Blue Beetle, Spider-Man, and Ms. Marvel.  Well, now I read four.  While Nova and even The Blue Beetle play to a younger audience with their quick scene cuts, Invincible Iron Man plays to an older audience, with people dying, and not just in a "superhero" way.  This is another good series, and Brian Michael Bendis - as busy as he is - keeps on churning out quality comics.

The Eyes of the Cat

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The Eyes of the Cat was originally a short piece given away to the monthly subscribers of Les Humanoides Associes, which published a monthly magazine.  Created in 1978 and the first-ever published collaboration between Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius, it was free of the then-crippling Comics Code because it was published in France.  It is the story of a blind boy and his hawk, Meduz.  The boy sends the hawk to kill a cat and bring the blind boy its eyes so that the blind boy can see.

I received The Eyes of the Cat, The Yellow Edition as a Christmas present.  Published in 2013, it is hardbound with yellow pages, like the original.  While earlier editions (which I have not seen) sell for $100 or more, this sells for $25 or $30 and is sure to be a collector's item.  The Foreword by Jodorwowsky is dated 2011, and he talks about how he met Jean Giraud/Moebius and their early collaborations.  

Moebius's art style mostly takes two forms.  As you lay the book flat, you see the blind boy in silhouette on the left page, and on the right page, there is a detailed drawing of the action.  This is repeated on every page until the shocking ending.  Moebius uses a ligne claire style of art, reminiscent of the early Herge, with straight lines used for texture.  It's really a fascinating piece of art and literature, one that anyone with a tablet or a computer can enjoy by buying the digital version for $5.95 off Amazon.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Libby's Dad

Libby's dad by eleanor davis

Libby's Dad is my Retrofit comic for the day. Reminiscent of The Eye of the Cat by Jodorowsky and Mobius, Libby's Dad is a very short story that a lesser comic artist would have told in a few frames. It is a very quick read. It is the story of five friends who have a swim party at one of the friend's house. Libby's mother is unhappy with the divorce that the two parents have gone through, and preteen or teen melodrama ensues.

I really like the art; it's somewhat rough with straight edges and good lettering. What you see on the cover is basically what you get in the book as far as artwork. Overall, I really like the book. The art seems to have been done with pencil and colored pencil, but somehow it feels better than that, as if the pencil strokes have their own meaning to themselves.I grew up with the pool, with the parties and overnights you might expect. I think just about any teem can relate to getting in trouble during an overnight trip and worrying about the wrath of one of the parents.

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 5: Super Famous


Ms. Marvel, Volume 5: Super Famous is about the gentrification of Jersey City by a nefarious group that uses nanotechnology to turn people into zombies. To make matters worse there using Ms. Marvel's image illegally to advertise their slogan, "Clean Up Jersey City." Ms. Marvel then finds that her best friend – who by the way has a new girlfriend – is one of the people who has been brainwashed. That nefarious group? It turns out to be HYDRA.

I've been reading Ms. Marvel for about two years now on trade paperback. It's one of the few series I still read on trade paperback, and Volume 6 comes out in the week. While I plan to spend most of my Christmas Amazon cards on computer parts (I'm building a VR-ready box this year), I might spare $13 on the new volume.  I can't really explain why I'm not reading this series on a monthly basis.  There are lesser series that I read every month.  I guess I like seeing all of those trade paperbacks on my shelf.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Black Butler XVI


Black Butler XVI Takes place at a very private public school – Weston College – which only allows the most elite members of society's children. In fact the Queens nephew goes there, and he has gone missing. That's why Ciel and Sebastian are there in the first place, to unravel the mystery. The public school is run by an unseen headmaster whose rule is absolute, but does this headmaster even exist? In reality the school is run by a vicious group called the P4, composed of the prefects of each house. Ciel can only meet the headmaster by gaining admittance to the "Midnight Tea Party." To do this he must become the most valuable player in the annual cricket tournament.

I haven't read a lot of manga recently; there's something slightly more satisfying about a single-issue comic. A tankoban volume contains five to 12 individual comics. These volumes very rarely represent a complete story the way a volume of Western comics would. A typical arc for Black Butler is two to four of these volumes. Most people read the individual volumes, but many read the monthly, biweekly, or even weekly comics as they come out in Shonen Jump or other publications.

Black Butler is one of my favorite manga, and I've only read more of Hunter X Hunter, 20th Century Boys, and One Piece. I like the Victorian setting, and of course the characters are beyond reproach. Unlike One Piece, Black Butler has minor characters that are less to the periphery, such as Elizabeth, Ciel's bride-to-be, who appears at the gala before the annual cricket tournament. Prince Kadar goes to Weston College with Ciel. The main two characters are of course Ciel and Sebastian, the young master and the Akuma.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Cowboys and Insects


Cowboys and Insects is a one-shot mini-comic from David Hein Shaky Kane, the creators of The Bulletproof Coffin and The Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred. I haven't read any of The Bulletproof Coffin comics, but I'm always up for a mini-comic. The basic story is that nuclear tests have created giant insects, insects so big that people eat them and corral them the way in another universe people eat and corral cows and goats. Welcome to Bug Town, Colorado.

This is, as you can imagine, a very gross comic but a very fun comic. The one girl who is a vegetarian and thus doesn't eat bugs is seen as mentally ill and a freak. She and her family are ruthlessly treated by the Knights of the Head, a KKK-like terrorist organization. This comic speaks to the violence and deviance of normalcy in too many situations, how terrible a society can become when it doesn't think of those less fortunate than others. I absolutely love this mini-comic.

Postal, Vol. 1

Postal, Vol. 1 TP

Postal, Volume 1 is free with your ComiXology Unlimited subscription if you get the individual issues, #1 through #4.  I was first introduced to this series reading Eden's Fall, which is based on Postal, The Tithe, and Think Tank, three Top Cow titles.  Mark Shiffron is the postman of Eden, the son of the mayor.  He has a severe variety of Asperger's Syndrome, and Postal is the story of Eden through his eyes and through his actions.  He's more than the two fools in The Hidden Fortress, and he's very capable for someone so obviously otherwise-abled.

I'm the father of an autistic son, and I'm always surprised at what he does.  Mark Shiffron takes more initiative than a regular person and almost unrealistically more than someone with Asperger's, but that is part of the charm of this series.  It's hard not to cheer him on as he rides off on his dirt bike, looking for red-clay mud and breaking up a meth ring.  Eden, Wyoming is a great setting, with a leader and a sheriff but no contact with the federal government.  Everyone in Eden except for Mark is wanted or suspected of some sort of crime; they're all refugees from the American legal system, living in harmony.  A real refugee camp isn't like that, as anyone who's followed the news can tell you.  Again, this unrealistic realism of Postal is part of its charm.

Green Manor II

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Green Manor II: The Inconvenience of Being Dead is another comic that I started this year but didn't finish. I read Green Manor I and half of Green Manor II before petering out. Written by Fabien Vehlmann and illustrated by Denis Bodart, Green Manor II is more European goodness, set in Victorian England. It takes place at the Green Manor Club, where there is a perchance for murder and mayhem among the high-crust members.

I don't read enough mysteries. Whenever I do, I wonder why I don't read more. While I do love comics like The Humans, there is little doubt as to how a comic like that is going to end. A good mystery, on the other hand, not only surprises you but makes you curious about what the surprise is. This comic does exactly that, driving you to read the next story and the one after that. I'm surprised I stop reading a comic as engaging as this one.

The Humans, Vol. 2

The Humans, Vol. 2: Humans Till Deth TP

The Humans, Volume II: Humans Till Deth is a little bit longer than Volume I, containing Issue #5 through Issue #10. The story is pretty simple. A deal goes bad, Bobby dies, and Johnny leads the rest of the Humans into a battle against a rival biker gang and some heavy drug runners protected by the police. Johnny uses the tactics he learned as a soldier in the Vietnam War, which he never really came back from.

I actually started reading this volume last summer when I was in Georgia. It was a wonderful trip, but sometimes when you're reading something on a trip, you don't finish it when you get back. Right now I've been reading a lot; I've posted 20 blog reviews in the past week because I have the new headset and software. If anything Volume II is more violent and more disturbing than Volume I. It is a violent reminder of what happens to our soldiers when they come back to live a civilian life, just as Taxi Driver was a generation or two ago.

Eyelash Out

Eyelash out by ben sea

Eyelash Out is a Retrofit comic from 2014. It consists of 24 pages and a cover, mostly ink on paper. It is incredibly detailed and dense; there is a lot to read here and a lot to look at. Although it is a small comic – a mini comic – the pages have up to 12 panels on them. The basic story is that the Queen gives one of her eyelashes to a girl. Then a boy, perhaps her brother, steals an eyelash, and they go on an adventure.

Three words come to mind when describing Eyelash Out: strange, fantastic, and disturbing. I use the word "fantastic" a lot in my reviews, but let me explain what I really mean by that word. It's not just another euphemism for "awesome" or "good"; it means "otherworldly" or "in the realm of fantasy." Eyelash Out takes you to the bizarre world of Ben Sea, the creator.

The Woods #28

The Woods #28

The Woods, Issue #28 opens with Sanami's father talking to a lawyer back in the real world. On the unnamed moon, Karen and her troop are learning more about what that moon is; they're entering the deepest center of the mechanized part of that moon. Sanami says, "look at this place. This isn't a human place. There is something just inherently wrong about all of it. You can feel that, can't you?" The teenage drama is over with, and there at the heart of the story. For the most part, that is.

I'm very excited for where this comic is going. It was originally set up as a 24-issue series, but it has become a 36-issue series. The ending of this particular issue, with Sanami and one of the creatures from the moon returning to Earth and warning of the coming danger signals the beginning of the end of this comic. I wasn't able to buy this issue when it came out because it was sold out.

I began reading this comic in digital form, buying the old comics for $1.99 each, but I quickly caught up to the end and began buying the comics in hard copy every month they come out. I've only been buying comics in hard copy for the past year or year and a half, but over the past year, I've become obsessed with them. The Woods is one of the first comics I bought regularly.

Eden's Fall #3

Eden’s Fall #3

Eden's Fall, Issue #3 begins with Jimmy's burial. He died trying to kill Thornton in Eden, Wyoming, the city that isn't on any map, the city that doesn't show up on Google Earth. Issue #3 introduces a new character, the CIA agent hinted at in Issue #2. We get to see her in action, taking on a group of armed thugs in masks. Meanwhile, Samantha Copeland is in federal detention for "unrelated crimes."

Issue #3 didn't end the way I expected it to end either. This is one of those great comics or you can almost hear a soundtrack in your head, accompanying the action. I hope this isn't the last three scene of the characters, particularly the CIA agent, Mirra. Unfortunately, with Christmas a week away, I'm broke, so I can't buy one of the accompanying series such as Postal. I've gained a new respect for Top Cow comics.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Eden's Fall #2

Eden’s Fall #2

Eden's Fall, Issue #2 begins with a story about a medieval knight who kills a dragon despite being told not to kill the dragon by his king. He is stripped of his name and his legacy. The woman telling this story is Laura Shiffron, the mayor of Eden, Wyoming, and she tells FBI agent James Miller that she wants him to murder Thornton, the right wing extremist from The Tithe, Volume 2. The catch? He can't use a gun, and Thornton is a very dangerous character.

This comic didn't end the way I expected it to end. In fact, I expected to read Issue #3 tomorrow morning, but I'm excited to see how this series ends, and I might read it tonight. The artwork is lovely, a bit more realistic than most comic-book art. Except for the last few pages, this is a very dialogue heavy issue but not burdeningly so. I particularly liked the general's monologue to Dr. David Loren.

Ringside #8

Ringside #8

Ringside, Issue #8 begins with a flashback to 1993, when the business was not so good, and Danny was still wearing the mask. It flashes forward to 2016, when the business is good, but Danny isn't in it. Danny is being blackmailed by his boyfriend Teddy to work illegally as security. He may not have chosen this job, but he does it very well. Meanwhile, Reynolds is excited about a minor role as a professional wrestler.

It's never quite spelled out what kind of business Danny does security for, but the clue is given in this issue. One of the people Danny works for mentions the FDA, although this might be a nod to Chew. I got a little behind in this series, which wraps up the second arc this Wednesday with Issue #9.  Issue #10 is due to come out in March, to start the third arc.

Nova #1


Nova, Issue #1 is the story of 15-year-old Sam Alexander, whose father served as a member of the Nova Corps. I picked this comic up because I was looking for a few back issues and didn't quite find everything I needed, but I still had an extra $5 or $10 to spend. Also, I like the odd teenage superhero. The three I read are Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel, and The Blue Beetle. Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel, and Nova have left the Avengers, forming the Champions.

What I like about The Blue Beetle and Nova is that they're both Latino superheroes in the Southwest or Texas. Unfortunately, I haven't fallen in love with the most recent iteration of either one. Nova is for a decidedly younger audience, and I guess so is The Blue Beetle. I really like the New 52 version of The Blue Beetle, but I don't know if I'll buy Nova when Issue #2 comes out.

Mowgli's Mirror

Mowgli's mirror by olivier schrauwen

Mowgli's Mirror is the largest of my Retrofit comics and perhaps the largest Retrofit comic that has come out. Totally devoid of dialogue, it is bichromatic in orange and blue, telling the story, initially, of a man and an orangutan. The orangutan is the man's "mirror" in that the two acts similarly in the beginning of the comic. The man also sees a proboscis monkey, a wolf, a lemur, and other creatures. The orangutan gives birth. The elephant poops.

I was captivated by this story and the artwork, and I happily read it through to the end, where the man finds… Well, I won't give that away. I've loved every single Retrofit comic that I've read, and this one is no different. It is soul rending. My only regret is that I didn't read it earlier so that I could order copies of Mowgli's Mirror for Christmas as presents for my friends and family.


Summerland by paloma dawkins

Summerland is a colorful Retrofit, about Santana, who goes to an artist colony to put on a play every summer. The young adults there drink beer and eat pot brownies while making art. Santana is about to go off to law school, and this is her last year at Summerland. Fast forward a few years, and her cousin Gwen is a struggling actress with too much money. It isn't stated where that money comes from. Then Santana goes back to Summerland, where she meets a former colleague.

The art on the cover is pretty much the same as the art in the book, only more fantastic and dreamlike. The art is defined by bright pastel colors and well-defined lines. I put off reading this title for a few weeks because I was not in the mood for something fantastic. I was pleasantly surprised to read that this is a down to earth story about real people. This is another fun Retrofit title.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Hadrian's Wall #4

Hadrian's Wall, Issue #4 begins with a flashback to a protest on planet Earth, Seattle, seven years earlier. It then moves on to a re-creation of the possible murder of Edward by Annabelle. There is another flashback, and in the present timeline Simon's situation becomes untenable. It all goes to hell in a hand basket.

The earliest science-fiction mystery I know of is Isaac Asimov's first Robot novel, The Caves of Steel. I have read over 100 of Isaac Asimov's novels and books, maybe close to 200, but I think his best fiction work is as a mystery writer. The first two Robot novels are my favorites. Hadrian's Wall is as full of twists and turns as any great mystery novel. That's why I like it. You really have to pay attention to every detail of the comic, in hopes that one of those details will prove vitally important to the story.

Hadrian's Wall #3

Hadrian's Wall, Issue #3 sees the captain interfering in the investigation by denying Simon's access to certain files. Worse yet, Simon is in the middle of opioid withdrawal because someone flushed all of his pain pills. Issue #2 ended with a hooded figure conspiring with one other crew members about the investigation, and issue #3 ends with… Another surprise or two.

I've been writing a lot of reviews lately because I got a new headset, and it's making it easier for me to compose them. My hand shakes, and typing is difficult. All of the comics I'm reading are good, but Hadrian's Wall has a unique style. The artwork is more realistic than iconic, much more realistic. The style is very dark, very noir. In the comments section, the creators talk about the influence that Blade Runner had on their work, saying that it would be hard not to be influenced by that movie.

Hawkeye #1


Hawkeye, Issue #1 focuses on Kate Bishop. The other Hawkeye, Clint Barton, has been MIA since killing the Hulk except for a brief appearance in Mockingbird, the comic about his ex-wife. The comic opens up on Venice Beach, where Hawkeye is working as a private detective when she comes across a bank robbery. Fortunately she has her suit and bow and arrows. The comic then moves on to the more private-detective aspect of the story. A blogger is being harassed online, and she hires Kate Bishop the find the person who's harassing her.

I was a big fan of Chelsea Cain's Mockingbird, and the harassment she suffered around the end of that series is a black eye for all comics fans. More to the point, that series was canceled before they could even see how many copies the trade paperbacks sold. I do think that there is room in the comics world for comics about adult women, and perhaps Hawkeye can take up the mantle for Mockingbird.

I did find it a little contrived that there happened to be a bank robbery right at the start of the series. The comic needed a little action, and we needed to see Hawkeye in her get-up, so I don't take too much umbrage with the fact that the robbery happened at that time. Overall it's a fun comic with an interesting twist, and I'm looking forward to reading it next month or whenever it comes out.

Poe Dameron #9


Star Wars: Poe Dameron, Issue #9 sees Poe Dameron and Black Squadron on the planet Kaddak, where they are to retrieve information about a droid operative there. Their companion? C-3PO. What they don't know is that Agent Terex is there to meet them, and that Agent Terex is there with an old friend from the Battle of Jakku. The two of them conspire to build the new Galactic fleet.

I don't know how much this ties into the next movie, or how much leeway and direction the writers of series like this are given. I have read this series is in canon, unlike earlier Star Wars fiction like the Thawn trilogy. Charles Soule is a student of Star Wars fiction, and it shows in this series. I'm excited to see for this series will go next.

Old Man Logan #15


Old Man Logan, Issue #15 is the second issue From the new team consisting of veteran writer Jeff Lemire, artist Filipe Andrade, and color artist Jordie Bellaire. While I'm a fan of Bellaire and becoming a fan of Andrade, I miss the old team. I'm also not a big fan of classical horror stories such as Dracula and Frankenstein because while the original stories were fresh in the 19th century, they've been done to death by this time. So, Wolverine is battling Dracula.

To be fair, this is done very well; there are flashbacks to Wolverine and Jubilee in better times. For those that haven't had much of Wolverine and the X-Men, Jubilee was his sidekick, a plucky little girl with a lot of fire. Now she's older and has a kid of her own, but both she and Logan have been bitten by Dracula. Jubilee has succumbed to Dracula's bite, but Logan is still fighting it.

I had been a fan of VCs Cory Petit before, but his lettering in this issue is beyond reproach. Too bad that this – I'm assuming – two-issue arc didn't come out for Halloween, but the arc about the Silent Order had to run its course. The next arc promises to be interesting as it's a return to the Wastelands. It also promises a return to the original team of creators.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Doctor Strange/The Punisher #1


Doctor Strange/The Punisher, Issue #1 combines two Marvel superheroes that don't seem to mesh. The Punisher deals in the very real world of guns and violence. Doctor Strange lives in the world of magic, which aside from a few weirdos on YouTube only exists in the realm of imagination. The opening scene is classic Frank Castle; he goes into a restaurant and kills everyone. Then he opens the door and sees a bunch of magic going on.

This is a nice, long comic, hence the $4.99 price tag, and it introduces the characters decently. Doctor Strange has a movie out that's doing pretty well, and I guess that was part of the genesis for this comic. In general, I believe, this is just another generally good mash up. I'm not as familiar with Doctor Strange, but I'm reading quite a bit of the Punisher, particularly The Punisher Max. I did read an interview with the creator, and he describes how the comic came out about organically. I will buy Issue #2.

Spider-Man #10


Spider-Man, Issue #10 ties directly into Civil War II, and Miles Morales is recovering from the vision Ulysses had of him killing Captain America. The comic then shows what happens when Spider-Man goes to the steps of the Capitol Building. After that Miles goes on the soliloquy about how his uncle Aaron was a criminal and how Spider-Man sometimes gets upset and wants to do bad things like killing Captain America. Then he relates the long-expected death of Tony Stark. The comics Invincible Iron Man and Infamous Ironman had already hinted at this happening.

I don't remember if Tony Stark dies in Issue #7 of Civil War II, but putting his death in this comic is powerful, although at the expense of much happening in the past couple of issues of Spider-Man. In Issue #9, we see very little of Spider-Man, but in Issue #10 we see him laid bare. I am a fan of the new Spider-Man. Sometimes characters from other universes become so popular that they get series of their own in the main Marvel universe. To wit, Spider Gwen will make an appearance in the next issue.

Descender #17

Descender #17

Descender, Issue #17 starts the new arc, "Orbital Mechanics." It ties together the two previous arcs, the first of which ends with Tim 21 fighting with Tim 22. The second of the two arcs details Andy's relationship with Effie and provides back stories for the other members of Andy's cortege. The action and the emotions are intense, and the beautiful panels are mostly absent of dialogue.

I guess it's been about a year since the "Machine Moon"arc ended, but reading this issue took me back right to the day that I last read about Tim 21's fight with Tim 22. It's been a long time since I even thought about Tim 21, and this mostly silent issue brought me right back into his world. It's very difficult to write a comic devoid of dialogue, but Jeff Lemire has pulled that off several times in this comic, which is quickly becoming a classic.

Faster Than Light #8

Faster Than Light #8

Faster Than Light, Issue #8 sees Earth attacked. A creature called a Boerboe sought asylum with the Earth government, only to blow itself up in Issue #7, taking part of Icarus Station with it. The new mission of the crew to find out why. They start out at Angelus Tube, a Freeport space station shaped like – you guessed it – a tube. Specifically, they venture out to a bar on one of the oxygen levels. There they meet a variety of aliens of various degrees of friendliness.

This series really is picking up. Ever since the "Cantina"scene in the original Star Wars movie, creators have been outdoing themselves making new and more strange-looking aliens. Faster Than Light is no different, and this issue is a highlight of the second arc. It's also pretty funny. I meant to buy Issue #8 to Issue #10, but the comic book store only had this issue. I'll have to pick up the rest of the ark the next time I go to a different comic book store.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Discipline #4 to #6

The Discipline #4

The Discipline, Issue #4 to Issue #6 finishes the six-issue story. At the end of Issue #3, Bliss had turned into a Stalker and held Melissa captive. In Issue #4, the two fight; you can guess who wins. Melissa is, of course, the main character and on the cover of every issue so far. Issue #5 sees Melissa go on her first assignment to Rome. There she is on the trail of a Stalker. There is also a flashback to the Roman Empire. Issue #6 directly concludes Issue #5 and the series, or at least it finishes "Chapter One: The Seduction."

This is a very dark series, a gruesome series, full of graphic sex and violence. I like it. An interesting subplot in The Discipline is class warfare. The Stalkers proclaim to be working-class, while the Discipline is decidedly uppercrust. I don't know if there will be a Chapter Two, reading the last half of the first chapter, I'm reminded of what I liked about the first half of the first chapter.

Eden's Fall #1

Eden’s Fall #1

Eden's Fall, Issue #1 brings together characters from a number of different series, only one of which I have read. That one series, The Tithe, was good enough that I bought this issue; however, it has taken me months before I actually started this comic. The main antagonist, Thornton, orchestrated the explosions around a number of churches in America to create an anti-Muslim sentiment. Now he is in Eden, Wyoming, and the FBI agents who were chasing him now have to deal with Eden's unique situation as a hub for off-the-grid criminals.

It took me a while to get used to the different art Style. For instance Samantha Copeland has a larger and more prominent nose. The writing is good; I've also read Brian Hill's Romulus, or at least the first two issues. Atilio Rojo is the artist, K. Michael Russell is the colorist, and Troy Peteri is the letterer. Matt Hawkins, the other writer, wrote The Tithe. There are two more issues of Eden's Fall, but I have so many comics that I want to buy that I think I'll hold off before buying them.

Lazarus #22 to #25

Lazarus #22

Lazarus, Issue #22 to Issue #25 have been sitting on my bed since last summer, yet somehow they managed to stay in decent shape. Perhaps it's because I do not sleep on that side of the bed because my comics are there. Also, my cats know not to sleep on my comics. Either that, or they do not find my comics very comfortable. Along with Issue #26, these issues make up Lazarus Volume 5. Issue #26 comes out in January, and for those of you that buy the trade paperbacks, Volume 5 comes out next year.

Forever Carlyle is the Lazarus of the Carlyle family. She cannot die, and any injuries she gets will only heal over. She lives in a future world where a tiny fraction of a percentage of the people are family, a small percentage are serfs, and the rest are called waste. The Carlyle family has a new Lazarus, Sonja Bittner, and Sonja is going to be released onto the field of battle in the place of Forever, who has grave combat wounds. The wounds are so bad that the Carlyle family has begun growing an eighth iteration of Forever, which the seventh iteration doesn't know about.

An interesting plot twist in this arc is Forever Carlyle learning that she is not really a child of the Carlyle family, that she was grown in the laboratory, that she was given drugs to make her love her brother and sister, drugs to make her follow orders. Now the drugs no longer work, and she's learning her place in the world. Meanwhile, Forever Eight, her replacement, is learning the the truth about her birth as well.

I can't believe that I got this far behind in Lazarus because it was one of my favorite comics. I'm finally catching up on all the comics that I let go by the wayside. Lazarus is really cool because of the setting and the artwork, but all aspects of this comic are spectacular, like the lettering and the coloring.

Faster Than Light #6 and #7

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Faster Than Light, Issue #6 and Issue #7 I bought some time ago, and I don't even know if the comic is still going. I do know that there was five-issue second arc that begins with Issue #6. I read and enjoyed the first five issues, but although I bought the next two issues, I never read them. Issue #6 begins with the crew back at Icarus Station where Capt. Forrest is stripped of his command for refusing counsel orders. The comic then flashes back a few days to the incident which got the captain in trouble. They are on an underwater world, trying to communicate with the locals, who live underwater. Issue #7 continues the arc.

I've only read part of the second arc so far, but I really think that it's the superior of the first arc. This series, along with Hadrian's Wall, reminds me of why I like science fiction. There are new worlds and new species, but it's really the human aspect of good science fiction that makes science fiction good. It took some time for the characters to catch on in this series, but they definitely have by the seventh issue. I'll have to buy the rest of the arc when I buy comics today.

Bear, Byrd and Stag Were Arguing in the Forest

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Bear, Bird and Stag Were Arguing in the Forest (And Other Stories) is a collection of short stories about talking animals. In the first story, the Forest Queen asks the bear, the bird in the stag to bring him something Royal, and the three of them bring her presents of varying quality. The bird and the stag bringing the Queen presents made out of their own bodies, feathers and antlers, and the bear brings her a stick. Out of spite, the Queen hexes the bear, the bird and the stag so that they can no longer speak.

I really like this book, especially the titular story. It's funny and fun, like something my sister would draw. Madeline Flores really captures the imagination of folks stories, putting her unique name on it. She uses thick lines and 1930s-style dotted shading. She uses two distinct lettering styles, one traditional in all capital letters and one in cursive. I will definitely look for more work by this artist.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Power Button #0

Power Button, Issue #0 is a science fiction mini comic I got off the Study Group website for $5. It tells the story of Adatra, the Omega Knight, starting with his story on his home planet. His home planet is attacked, and the Weaponeers of IX "save" it by enslaving some of its citizens. These citizens are transformed by the Omega Seed into super humans capable of defending the home planet against its attackers. After saving his home planet, Adatra must continue fighting the Galactic Horde Empire as long as he lives.

The artwork is with tricolored shades of green and shades of magenta, along with whites and dark blues, the latter only used for the lettering. The cover is in full color. I particularly like the Satan Moon, which is a ringed planet with an eyeball. This is an iconic figure, Study Group Comics has used it in stickers, patches, and buttons.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Hadrian's Wall #2

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Hadrian's Wall, Issue #2 details the preliminary investigation into the murder of Edward Madigan, including interrogations eight primary suspects, those being the eight astronauts were aboard Hadrian's Wall. You get a picture for the deceased, ex-military, ex-police, all-around hot head, surrounded by mostly scientists, many of whom were more experienced in space than he was. The final interview is with Annabelle, the deceased widow and investigator Simon Moore's ex-wife. You get a general feel for the murder without knowing who is behind the murder.

As I said in my review of  Issue #1, the colors are a highlight of this series. So are the clothes; the astronauts were contemporary clothes, and Simon Moore dresses like a detective. I also like the pain pill aspect, as someone is trying to shut Simon Moore up by getting rid of this medicine this of course doesn't work, and only shows to him that there is a conspiracy of silence. I'm sure he will redouble his efforts in Issue #3.

Hadrian's Wall #1

Hadrian’s Wall #1 (Of 8)

Hadrian's Wall, Issue #1 is by the same team that created C.O.W.L., and I've been meaning to read it for some time. It takes place in Seattle and in space the year 2085. An astronaut is murdered in space, and an earthbound detective is hired to find his killer. Detective Simon Moore is addicted to pain killers. The reason why he takes painkillers is that he was shot four times by the very astronaut who was murdered. That astronaut also married his ex-wife

If you liked C. O. W. L., you'll probably like Hadrian's Wall. The artwork is similar, and it's a real mystery, very engaging and a nice distraction. Rob Reis does the artwork and the coloring, both of which I particularly like. The deep blues of the space station are unique, giving a true feel for the future. Hadrian's Wall is the name of the spaceship. Troy Peteri does the lettering; I've been a fan of him for some time. It's also a longer issue which I appreciate.

Wayward #16

Wayward #16

Wayward, Issue #16 begins with Sanae meeting Dermot Lane in Ireland. Dermot is Rori's father, and he has powers as well. With the New Gods in Ireland, they are safe from the Yokai but Rori's mother is dead. In Ireland Ayane tries to speak to the local cats, but they don't understand her. One does and it tells her she doesn't belong in Ireland. Longtime readers of this series will be as happy about the Irish mythology as they were about the Japanese mythology.

It took me a little while to get into this are, but I finally read it, and I enjoyed it. I'll be sure to buy Issue #17 and Issue #18 this Wednesday. Now that I'm dictating these reviews, I'm reading a lot more comics than I was before. I'm using the program Dragon Home Premium along with a mic and headset.

The Salmon of Doubt #3

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Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, Issue #3 begins with Dirk Gently at the concert where the drummer, Amanda Bronztman, has had a bizarre attack she thinks she is on fire and she is really on fire, but only she and Dirk Gently can tell. Gently saves her by turning a fire extinguisher on her, but the people from his dream are investigating the case. One is a captain, and one is even higher ranking; they both wear green military fatigues, and they talk about Project Icarus.

I definitely like this title a lot, and I've liked all the other Dirk Gently comics that I've read by this team. I need to get back and read some of the earlier Dirk Gently comics that have come out before. There is also a short back comic written by Arvind Ethan David, but the art is by Dani Strips. The colors are by Charlie Kirchoff in both the main comic in the back comic. The main art is by Ilias Kyryazis. I will continue to buy comics by this team as long as they continue to make comics.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Kill or be Killed #4

Kill Or Be Killed #4

Kill or be Killed, Issue #4 Is the final installment of the first arc. It begins with the fantasy encounter on a subway, where the hero saves an old woman from two thugs. Of course, the killer in this comic isn't a hero or even an antihero. He's just a guy who has to kill people or else you will die. It's an interesting concept because he wants to kill the right people or the wrong people, but he has a misguided moral compass.. The main character seems to have a very intact moral compass. He just happens to have to kill people.

It took me a long time to read this because there is a lot of text. Kill or be Killed is a classic horror story in the vein of 1970s monster flick or a 1930s short story. Certainly a classic in the genre and one that I look forward to reading one the second arc comes out. Dylan Cross is a very good character, an average person in extraordinary situation, and you can relate to him really well. The relationship between him and his best friend and his roommate is a highlight as well.

Monstress #8

Monstress #8

Monstress, Issue #8 begins with a recap of the story so far along with a short dramatis personae.  Maika, Kippa, and Ren are sailing toward the nation of Thyria, far from the grip of the Arcanic Dusk Court and the Cumean Mother Superior, the leaders of both sides of the human-Arcanic cold war.  Her guide is Seizi, a tiger-man Arcanic.  Now they are sailing to the Isle of Bones, but will the Monstrum inside Maika wreak havoc on the crew?

Like I've said seven times before, this is just a beautiful comic, one just about everyone should be reading.  I still remember seeing the first triple-issue and thinking that the inside artwork could never live up to the cover art, but it does, and it has.  I love the golds, and the mostly-female/matriarchal cast should appeal to women.

Friday, December 9, 2016

A.D. After Death, Book One

A.D.: After Death Book 1

A.D. After Death, Book One is a combination of prose, drawings, and comics by Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire, both of whom I'm big fans of.  The premise is simple.  A man in his 40s finds a cure for death.  Book One begins with this man's first memory as a child on vacation with his parents in 1970s Florida and stretches to the year 825 "A.D." or after people stopped dying because of him.  No explanation is given as to how death stops happening or who is affected.  It's just a fun comic about this man who did something extraordinary.

This series has received a lot of praise and rightly so.  I've even heard that a movie adaptation is in the wings, although I do hear that a lot.  The comic costs $5.99, but it took an hour for me to read because of all the prose text and neat things to look at.  It's also a half inch taller and an inch wider than an average comic, so it probably won't fit in your long box.

This is one of the good ones.  I mean, I generally like all the series I follow, but a few stand out among the rest.  A.D. After Death, Book One has the feel of a Retrofit comic, but it's even better than what they've been putting out, and as someone with dozens of their comics, me saying this says a lot.  There are going to be three books in this short series, with the next one coming out in two or three weeks.

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1 collects a Star Lord origin story, a three-issue arc, and a series of origin-ish stories about the rest of the Guardians. It is the 2013-2015 Guardians of the Galaxy series, written by Brian Michael Bendis, with pencils by Steve McNiven and Sara Pichelli. The main story involves Star Lord's father telling everyone in the galaxy to let Earth be. No one listens to him, and there's trouble. Oh, and Iron Man is along for the ride.

I'm relatively new to Marvel Comics, and I mostly read current comics, but I saw this title at the library and gave it a try. I liked it. In fact, I ordered Vol. 2 and Vol. 3 off Comixology/Amazon for $3.99 each. I've become a big Iron Man fan over the past year, so his inclusion is a major plus for me. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Unworthy Thor #2


The Unworthy Thor, Issue #2 continues Odinson's journey to find the second Mjolnir, the second mystical hammer that will give him the power of Thor.  At the end of Issue #1, Odinson returns to Asgard to find the entire realm gone, with only Beta Ray Bill left.  In Issue #2, he goes after the perpetrators of the theft of Asgard, only to be captured by Taneleer Tivan, the Elder of the Universe.  He demands of Odinson the secret to wielding the sacred hammer.

I first became a fan of Jason Aaron when I read Southern Bastards, which he created with Jason Latour.  I've gone on to read a bunch of his stuff, including some of his work on the various Thor series.  The idea of a female Thor intrigued me, so I bought the first trade paperback off Comixology.  It was good enough to get me started reading this series, which will perhaps turn out to be its superior.

Saga #40

Saga #40

Saga, Issue #40 is a series with widespread appeal.  Like Brian K. Vaughan's Y: The Last Man, it breaks your heart when one of the characters dies or leaves.  Unlike Y: The Last Man, Saga has a huge, rotating cast of characters, and one of them dies in Issue #38 or Issue #39 (I forget).  It looks like another regular character is going to be leaving in Issue #41.  In On Writing, Stephen King writes that 500 pages into The Stand, he hit a roadblock.  He had too many characters, so he kills off half of them with a bomb.

Saga is one of the great comics, one that you should be reading if you're serious about the art form.  It's only gotten better with time.  I'm just wary of Vaughan and artist, Fiona Staples killing off too many people.  Take The Walking Dead, for instance, the television series.  When Negan kills off two characters, the series got huge ratings.  Know what?  After that, people just stopped watching it in the same numbers as before.  Vaughan has said he doesn't know exactly how many issues Saga will run for, but it's safe to say that there'll still be new issues coming out in at least 2018.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Green Lanterns #12

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Green Lanterns, Issue #12 continues the "Phantom Lantern" arc, which I've been a big fan of.  At the end of Issue #11, Frank Laminski began to lose control of the Phantom Ring, becoming an Orange Lantern, defined by avarice.  Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz are the Green Lanterns of Earth, and they're in charge of containing Lamiski (the other Green Lanterns from Earth are a part of the Hal Jordan and the Green Lanterns series).  Baz is a Muslim who first appeared in Geoff Johns's epic Green Lantern run, and Cruz popped up some time after that.  Cruz is arguably the more interesting of the two, as she suffers from anxiety and can't create a construct with her ring.

There's a lot I like about this title, which I've covered in my reviews of Issue #1 through Issue #11 and Green Lanterns Rebirth, Issue #1: the two-week turnaround, the $2.99 price tag, the Phantom Lantern, and the two Green Lanterns.  It's usually one of the first titles I read after buying comics on Wednesday, mostly because I've gotten so used to the characters and the writing.