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Popeye (2012) #1

July 11, 2012 Leave a comment

June 15, 2012

Title: Popeye in the Land of Jeeps

Writer: Roger Langridge
Art:
Bruce Ozella
Letters:
Bruce Ozella
Colors:
Luke McDonnell
Cover Art:
Bruce Ozella & Luke McDonnell
Editors:
Ted Adams, Craig Yoe & Clizia Gussoni
Publisher:
IDW Publishing

After a long absence from the pages of comic books, Roger Langridge and Bruce Ozella have brought him back, courtesy of IDW. Rather than trying to rewrite the character, or “reboot” or “update” or do any of those things that are so fashionable nowadays, the creators of this book dive right into a story that easily could have been produced by E.C. Segar himself… and it’s all the better for it.

In “The Land of the Jeeps,” Olive Oyl’s brother Castor shows up with startling news: another animal similar to their friend Eugene the Jeep has been discovered. Popeye and his crew soon set sail to seek out the mystery of the animal, only to run afoul of some old foes.

This story impresses me on several levels. Langridge doesn’t flinch at all from using some of the strangest and most obscure characters from the old Thimble Theatre series, characters that a lot of the current crop of readers have probably never heard of. And what’s more, he does it without profile pages or long, boring chunks of exposition… readers who are unfamiliar will have to pick up the history through the context… and there’s more than enough context to do it.

What’s more, the writing and art style is very evocative of the old series. The characters fit their old models, the story is the sort of thing the old comic strip did wonderfully, and the pages are densely packed with panels. In a day when the typical superhero comic has three, four, maybe five panels to a page, it’s nothing for this book to cram eight or nine panels full of colorful characters and lots of dialogue. This isn’t a comic book you can read in two minutes and be done with, you need to spend time with this comic, and the experience is all the more satisfying because of it.

Langridge and Ozella haven’t just brought back Popeye, the character, they’ve brought back the classic strip in a way that’s familiar and satisfying for old fans. It’s really a fun read.

Rating: 8/10

Doctor Who: The Forgotten #5

June 20, 2012 Leave a comment

January 4, 2009

Doctor Who: The Forgotten #5 (IDW Publishing)
By Tony Lee, Pia Guerra & Nick Roche

The Doctor’s tour through his previous incarnations takes us up to his two more recent forms. After visiting the past of the eighth and ninth Doctors, a refresher on life #10 suddenly changes everything we thought we knew about this series. I’ve mentioned before that the problem I had with this series was what seemed like a kind of generic villain and a plot that served as little more than an excuse to drift through the various Doctors of the past. this issue answers those problems and then some. The reveal about the villain was totally unexpected, and the truth about Martha was a great little twist. With one issue to go, I think I’ve got an inkling about at least one more reveal, but even if I’m wrong, this has shaped up to be a series that’s far more than the sum of its parts. Highly recommended for all fans of the Doctor!
Rating: 9/10

The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures HC

March 21, 2012 Leave a comment

January 19, 2010

The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures (IDW Publishing)
By Dave Stevens

Back in the 80s, the late Dave Stevens created a new World War II-era hero, a high-flying, jetpack-wearing gladiator called the Rocketeer. Although his adventures only lasted for two serials, the character spun off into a movie and has become a perennial favorite of fans. For the first time, all of the original adventures by Stevens are collected here, completely recolored, in a gorgeous hardcover collection. The stories are epic in and of themselves. In the first, a stunt pilot finds an experimental jetpack stolen from the government and uses it to become a superhero. The second takes him cross-country to New York to track down his girlfriend, only to wind up teaming up with one of the all-time great pulp heroes. Stewart created some truly timeless characters, and his artwork (beautiful in and of itself) is made even greater by modern color techniques. As big a fan of the character as I am, this is the first time I’ve read all of the original stories, and it just made me want all the more to see someone pick up the character and run with him. There’s so much story left in Cliff Secord and company, it’d be a shame if no more stories are ever told.
Rating: 10/10

Ghostbusters #5

March 2, 2012 Leave a comment

February 4, 2012

Writer: Erik Burnham
Art:
Dan Schoening
Letters:
Neil Uyetake
Colors:
Luis Antonio Delgado
Cover Art:
Dan Schoening
Editor:
Tom Waltz
Publisher:
IDW Publishing

The second Ghostbusters arc picks up right on the heels of the first. Although the City has (reluctantly) conceded that the Ghostbusters are a necessity in New York, the fact that they’re on public retainer makes them civil servants, which means they’re to be held to the same physical standards as police officers and firefighters – something that doesn’t sit too well with Peter Venkman in particular. As the Ghostbusters shart on the long road to physical fitness, an amusement park starts to exhibit signs of a ghost infestation that will require the guys to suit up again.

Erik Burnham takes us into some fun territory here. While the haunted amusement park thing is standard Ghostbusters fare, the B-plot that’s running right now is definitely bringing the team into uncharted territory. Even the antagonistic Walter Peck, EPA jerk from the first movie, is becoming an interesting member of the cast, a Henry Gyrich to their Avengers, if you will. The fitness storyline provides plenty of opportunities for comedy, while the action and horror comes in the guise of the spectral monsters the team faces. Burnham is also expanding the supporting cast, introducing us to Ray’s employees at his occult bookstore in a way that makes us suspect there are story plans in the works for them as well.

I’ve become quite the fan of Dan Schoening. He tells a story very well, and some of the little visual notes he adds make the book all the more entertaining. The Blues Brothers tribute from the first storyline was great, but it seems that the shout-outs aren’t going to stop there. This issue we encounter a demonic clown that looks terribly familiar, far too familiar to possibly be a coincidence.

Why it took so long for IDW to launch an ongoing Ghostbusters title after it got the license, I’ll never know. Now that it’s here, though, I’m really enjoying it.

Rating: 8/10

Ghostbusters #4

February 24, 2012 Leave a comment

December 30, 2011

Writer: Erik Burnham
Art:
Dan Schoening
Letters:
Neil Uyetake
Colors:
Luis Antonio Delgado
Cover Art:
Dan Schoening
Editor:
Tom Waltz
Publisher:
IDW Publishing

The first story arc of the new Ghostbusters series comes to a fine conclusion. Ray has been taken by the minions of Gozer, and is being asked (again) to choose the form of the Destructor. But Ray’s spectral buddy has a little advice for him, even as the Ghostbusters continue to seek their missing comrade.

Erik Burnham has really nailed this title. He knows the characters very well, playing on Ray’s gentle naivety, Venkman’s cynicism and the character traits we love from the films to have them act in a way that’s consistent with what we expect, but still set in a very fresh story. Even going back to the villain of the first movie hasn’t made the book seem stale. Instead, Burnham has approached Gozer in a different way and used it to tell a different kind of story than the first film. Burnham also manages to end this issue with a nice hook that will lead us into a second story arc that seems to have a premise utterly unlike anything we’ve seen done with these characters, even (as far as I can remember) in the cartoon.

Speaking of which, I again have to praise Dan Schoening for finding a style that’s very animated, very evocative of the actors that created the characters, but doesn’t mimic the cartoon or any other style that we’ve seen the Ghostbusters depicted in.

The book is a fine, fun title and I’m really happy to see it doing as well as it is.

Rating: 8/10

TransFormers: The Death of Optimus Prime #1

February 17, 2012 Leave a comment

December 27, 2011

Title: The Death of Optimus Prime

Writer: James Roberts, John Barber
Art:
Nick Roche
Letters:
Shawn Lee
Colors:
Josh Burcham
Cover Art:
Viktor Deak
Editor:
Carlos Guzman
Publisher:
IDW Publishing

With the war between the Autobots and the Decepticons ostensibly over, it should be a time of peace on Cybertron. Instead, the planet is being overwhelmed with “NAILs” – Non-Aligned Indigenous Lifeforms – in other words, Cybertronians who took no side during the war. And as Bumblebee and Rodimus Prime struggle to bring peace between two factions of Autobots, Optimus himself begins to wonder just what his role is in a world without war against the likes of Megatron and Galvatron.

Despite the hyperbolic title, this is just an okay issue. James Roberts and John Barber are here basically to draw the lines between the upcoming “Schism” (to borrow an X-Men term) between the two ongoing TransFormers titles, one showing Autobots under Bumblebee’s leadership, one under Rodimus. They’re also out to explain why Optimus has been taken out of the equation, although the conclusion isn’t as simple as one might think.

The new Status Quo here is interesting enough. The writers have changed things up considerably for this franchise, placing familiar characters in a new situation that neither they nor the readers are used to. If you’re going to do a relaunch of such a classic property, this is a good way to do it, even if this issue itself is a little lackluster.

Nick Roche’s artwork helps a lot. He’s got a good feel for the robots, something that is a little more stylized than the classic cartoon, but not so far as to hit the nigh-incomprehensible “realism” we get from the Michael Bay movies. He makes the characters his own, using them to tell stories instead of sell toys.

Okay issue, but it does pique my interest for what IDW has planned next.

Rating: 7/10

Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes #1

December 20, 2011 Leave a comment

October 31, 2011

Writer: Chris Roberson
Pencils:
Jeffrey Moy
Inks:
Philip Moy
Colorist:
Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letterer:
Robbie Robbins
Cover Artist:
Phil Jimenez
Editor:
Chris Ryall
Publisher:
IDW Publishing/DC Comics

In the 23rd Century, the planet Earth has become the seat of the Imperial Planets, a powerful force that sets out to subjugate any race that doesn’t join it. But that’s just the future of one universe. In another 23rd Century, the United Federation of Planets is a peaceful organization that explores the stars, and in a third world’s 30th century, the United Planets are defended by the valiant Legion of Super-Heroes, In the first issue of this awesome crossover, Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise are tossed to an alternate world, one that melds elements of their own universe with that of the Legion. Meanwhile, Cosmic Boy and a team of Legionnaires, attempting time travel, are dropped into the same alternate 23rd century. The question of how the two groups of heroes arrived there and why the world has changed around them hangs in the air, but the first question is one of survival. This book is fun on so many levels. First of all, just seeing these two groups of science fiction legends thrust together is a lot of fun, even if they don’t actually interact yet in this issue. It’s also fun to examine the strange, blended universe Chris Roberson has constructed. DCU fans and Trekkers alike will find elements of their universes clipped together like some sort of twisted jigsaw, which (let’s be honest here) is the sort of thing we geeks always love to do. Jeffrey Moy and Philip Moy give us good depictions of both groups, making them look fairly natural together, although the Phil Jimenez cover really makes you wish you could see him do a full story with these groups some time.

Rating: 9/10