Sorry for the lack of updates lately, friends. I’ve been a bit busy lately. It’s November, which means National Novel Writing Month. It’s the holidays, which meant that I spent last week in Pittsburgh with Erin and her family. And it’s near the end of the semester, which means I’m busy as a teacher.
But I definitely want to give you guys some Christmas content, as well as just try to resume a regular schedule. So starting Thursday, December 1, I’m going to try to get back to my three-times daily posting, with a Christmas comic a day for as long as I can find Christmas comics to review. Thanks for your patience, and have a great yuletide season.
Title: Thor’s Day
Writer: Matt Fraction
Pencils: Stuart Immonen
Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover Artist: Steve McNiven
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The Asgardian siege of Earth is reaching its Climax. Captain America has led a contingent of ordinary Americans to take up arms against Sin, while Iron Man has managed to outfit the Avengers with the most incredible weapons any of them have ever had, and Thor stands ready to face his destiny. And in the end… eh, it’s okay. The problem isn’t so much that the issue is bad – there’s a lot of good stuff to it, really – but it feels somewhat anticlimactic. The ending of this issue was telegraphed at the beginning of the miniseries. A good writer can make that work, mind you, but it all comes down to the execution – if you’re going to tell me what happens, at least find an unexpected way to make it happen. But it doesn’t, really, it doesn’t surprise at all. There is the requisite major character death at the conclusion, but it’s hard to take it seriously here. The character in question died not very long ago, came back not very long ago, and has a pretty big media presence for Marvel Comics at this point. It’s hard to imagine he’s not going to be back before the Avengers movie comes out next summer, and that sucks some of the drama from it. The best stuff here, truly is Matt Fraction’s treatment of Captain America. He really does nail Steve Rogers, having him step up and act the hero he’s supposed to be, every inch a warrior, every inch an Avenger. I’d gladly read a Captain America series written by Fraction, even if the rest of the book is kind of so-so. Immonen and Von Grawbadger continue to deliver on the artwork – gorgeous pages, a couple of full-page and double-page spreads that I’d love to have as a poster. It just looks great. If it read as well as it looks, it’d be one of Marvel’s finest crossovers. As it is, it’s just better than the last few.
Quick Rating: Great
Title: Yadda Yadda Yadda Yadda (I Can’t Believe It’s Not the Justice League Part Two)
The Superbuddies make nice with their new neighbor… and one of them makes a big mistake.
Writers: Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis
Pencils: Kevin Maguire
Inks: Joe Rubinstein
Colors: David Baron
Letters: Bob Lappan
Editor: Steve Wacker & Michael Carlin
Cover Art: Kevin Maguire
Publisher: DC Comics
The return of the Superbuddies continues unabated! God help us all.
Guy Gardner, opening a new bar next door, meets with his former teammates about this new enterprise. In inimitable Guy fashion, he takes an opportunity to put moves on the young and innocent… in this case, Mary Marvel. Meanwhile, Mary gets into a fight with her brother, Captain Marvel, about her sharing an apartment with Fire, Ralph continues to suffer from the misapprehension that Sue is pregnant, Maxwell Lord sends Blue Beetle to try to lure Power Girl back to the team, and in an act of unrivaled foolishness, Booster Gold goes exploring.
I must say, I think this issue is a step up even from last issue, which I thought was pretty darn good. There’s some genuine character development here for Guy (of all people), and while there are some moments where Mary goes so far into the “sweet and innocent” routine as to become a caricature of herself, the writers come back and show real toughness out of her to balance it out. People wondering what happened to Captain Atom will get an answer this issue, and the dialogue is as crisp, funny and perfectly paced as ever.
Kevin Maguire and Joe Rubinstein come back for more of their stellar artwork. There isn’t much action in this issue, but that’s fine – it’s predominantly a comedy and doesn’t need a lot of punching and explosions (although there’s plenty of promise of that sort of thing coming up in this story arc). It isn’t easy to time a joke just right in a comic book, but he handles it with all of the skill and wit that he ever has. And how could you write even a paragraph about the artwork in this book without commenting about Maguire’s skill at facial expressions? He may well be the best face artist in superhero comics.
I loved the classic Justice League with this art team, I loved the Formerly Known As miniseries, and I’m loving this arc as well. This is a real winner.
Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Bumped Part One
Cassie faces the wood-demons of Hitchfield!
Writers: Mark Kidwell & Tim Seeley
Art: Tim Seeley & Emily Stone
Colors: Milen Parvanov & Courtney Via
Letters: Brian J. Crowley
Editor: Scott Licina & Mike O’Sullivan
Cover Art: Tim Seeley
Publisher: Devil’s Due Publishing
This two-part story was originally supposed to be a standalone miniseries crossing over with the Fangoria comic Bump, but when Fangoria went belly-up, they added a few pages to keep the ongoing subplots going and shifted the story to the main Hack/Slash title. I’ve never read Bump, but that didn’t really hurt the book at all – it reads like any other slasher that Cassie and Vlad would have to deal with.
Cassie and Vlad roll into the town of Hitchfield, where a group of 32 college students were brutally murdered at an environmental protest. As they investigate the murders, a snoopy reporter winds up hooking up with our favorite duo, and the three of them have to fight for their lives when a league of horrifying woodcarved monsters attacks them.
This reads just fine as an issue of Hack/Slash regardless of the crossover trappings. Bump creator Mark Kidwell, who wrote most of the issue, handles Cassie and Vlad’s voices just as well as the series creator Tim Seeley, who provides most of the artwork. The gore this issue may be even harsher than a usual issue, with things like a face being bitten off to provide plenty of blood for those of you here for that sort of thing.
Title: Twenty Questions Part Two
Writer: Paul Jenkins
Art: Bernard Chang
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover Artist: Ryan Sook
Editor: Will Moss
Publisher: DC Comics
With no more answers about why he’s been chosen for his afterlife mission or why the parameters seem to have changed recently, Deadman tries to force the Goddess Roma to play her hand. It’s not as easy as all that, though, and he soon finds himself back on Earth seeking clues in the one place he has left… a club that caters to the occult set. Without an invitation to the Moonstone Club, though, he’ll have to resort to drastic means. Paul Jenkins’ rejiggering of the Deadman concept is proceeding really nicely here. I like his take on the character very much. It’s in keeping with everything we already knew about him, while still leaving plenty of room to try something new. The Moonstone club and its various inhabitants is a very cool concept, one that works with Deadman very well. The continuing questions about Deadman’s true nature are also intriguing While we haven’t really learned anything new yet, it’s easy to believe that by the time this story arc reaches its conclusion, the life (such as it is) of Boston Brand is going to be different than it is right now. Bernard Chang does good work here, with some nice “acting” on the characters Boston possesses. The subtlety of the facial expressions and body language really make it clear it’s the same person in multiple bodies, even if we didn’t have the crutch of the energy-aura to point it out for us. Very nice issue two.
Star Wars: Legacy #27 (Dark Horse Comics)
By John Ostrander & Omar Francia
Here’s a cool little standalone issue. Darth Krayt, lord of the Sith, is suffering from the Yuuzhan Vong coral implants inside his body. To try to save him, Darth Wyrlok attempts to delve the lost Sith knowledge of a master called Darth Andeddu, who found a way to animate his own body even after death. Andeddu doesn’t consider Krayt and Wyrlok worthy of his knowledge, though, and Wyrlok beings an intense battle for the life of his master. The Sith of Star Wars: Legacy are all really intriguing characters, and John Ostrander‘s decision to spotlight them this month makes for one of the best issues of this title since its inception. Although none of these characters are heroes, Wyrlok does manage to become a more sympathetic character, a character you can (almost) root for in his battle against Andeddu. Omar Francias artwork is fantastic — cool-looking aliens, nasty zombie Sith, an awesome painted cover. The whole package is extremely well put-together. If you’re a Star Wars fan, again, this is a book that stands on its own. Go ahead and check it out.
Star Comics All-Star Collection Vol. 1 (Marvel Comics)
By Lenny Herman, Stan Kay, Bob Bolling, Sid Jacobson, Warren Kremer & Howard Post
Back in the 80s, Harvey Comics went on one of several publishing hiatuses that would eventually lead to the demise of the company. Marvel, noticing the gap in kids’ comics, launched Star Comics to try to fill the void. Along with licensed properties like Heathcliff, Thundercats, and ALF, the line also included several original characters. With those Star heroes returning (kind of) in the recent X-Babies miniseries, Marvel has brought back their earliest adventures in this paperback. Having read many of these comics when I was a kid, I was reluctant to pick this book up — I was afraid it would be a case of the reality not living up to my memory. I was surprised to find that many of these books, even through the prism of 20-plus years experience, aren’t that bad. Lenny Herman and Warren Kremer were behind three of the four titles presented in this issue. First there are two issues of Planet Terry, a sort of kid version of Buck Rogers. Terry roams the galaxy searching for the parents that lost him in an accident when he was a baby. The two issues here show him meeting a new crew of friends and finding a lead to his parents. It’s not bad — there’s an ongoing storyline, which helps considerably, and while Terry is a little bland, the outer space setting allows for some creativity with the villains. The two Royal Roy issues, on the other hand, are total duds. Roy is who Harvey star Richie Rich would be if he was a prince. Seriously, there’s absolutely nothing else distinctive about him. He’s got rich parents, the poor girlfriend, the rich girl who wants him for herself — it’s virtually a carbon copy. Even the money jokes are the same. Top Dog was my favorite of these books as a child, and the three issues presented here are my favorite of this book as well. Young Joey Jordan has found a talking dog, Top Dog, and convinces him to come home with him and live in the comfort of a real family. Being a talking dog, of course, Top Dog gets into some trouble now and again. This was easily the best Star original. The characters were well-developed and had full personalities, and the mystery of Top Dog’s backstory was actually a great mystery. The book finished with Wally the Wizard, the first issue of which was done by legendary Little Archie creator Bob Bolling. Wally is the apprentice of the great wizard Marlin (you may have heard of his younger brother), but Wally isn’t that good at it. He finds himself having to use his wits to compliment his lesser magical powers. The second issue, by Sid Jacobson and Howard Post, isn’t quite as good, but it’s not bad. I’m actually surprised at how well most of these comics have held up. Except for Royal Roy, they’re still pretty funny, the art is timeless, and I think kids today would enjoy this book just as much as their parents who read these comics the first time around.
Rating: 7/10 (Would have been 8 except for Roy)