Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Wild Storm #1

   In reviving the Wildstorm line, DC Comics did something very smart - they handed the reboot / restart (dare we say Rebirth?) duties to writer Warren Ellis.

    One of the best in the business, Ellis has crafted four six-issue "books" to start things off - a 24-issue series called The Wild Storm.

    If you're not familiar with the wide-ranging history or plethora of characters that inhabit the Wildstorm Universe, the good news is, this is your starting point.

   Ellis is in the process of reintroducing / reinterpreting the characters, so this is like seeing Zealot, Voodoo, Engineer and others for the first time.

   I like the art by Jon Davis-Hunt, working with color artist Ivan Plascencia, they give the series a real-world feel to it, from the grime of the streets and the splinters of broken glass to the high-flying rescue and the emotions playing across the faces of the characters.

   It's sort of a "quiet" start for the series, which traditionally plays out in cinemascope (concepts and events), but I suspect we'll be there soon.

   A great start and a promising beginning!

Grade: A


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

New Comics Day

   Here's what I picked up at the comics shop today:

- Archie #17 - New girl in town!

- Captain America Steve Rogers #11 - Building up to the next event.

- Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye #5 - Wild Dog cuts loose.

- Daredevil #17 - His own worst enemy!

- Doctor Strange #17 - A menace of his own making.

- Invincible Iron Man #4 - Losing the armor.

- Justice League #15 - A new menace.

- Monsters Unleashed #3 - More monsters more often.

- Super Sons #1 - What's wrong with these kids today?

Mighty Thor #16 - Fighting the gods of the Shi'ar!

- Wild Storm #1 - A new beginning!

   And I received review copies for:

- Assassins Creed Awakening #4 

- Brigands #4 

- Cougar and Cub #2

- Dr. Who 10th Year Three #2

- Forever War #1

- Generation Zero #7 

- Hard Case Crime Peepland #4

- Mycroft #5 

- Peter David's Artful #3

- Savage #4

- The Forevers #3

- Voracious: Feeding Time #3

   And that's it!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Athena Voltaire and the Volcano Goddess #3

   Since I'm a fan of the Indiana Jones-type adventure, Steve Bryant's Athena Voltaire series from Action Lab Entertainment is right in my wheelhouse.

   Set in the 1930s, it follows the adventure serial life of a tough woman pilot who finds herself facing death traps, Nazis, ancient mysteries and danger at every turn.

   Her father - a retired stage magician - acquires a legendary necklace know as "Pele's Tears," with ties to the Hawaiian volcano goddess.

   Athena and her allies (including an actor and a policeman) undertake the dangerous job of returning the necklace to the volcano - but will they survive to fulfill their mission?

    The story by Bryant moves at a quick pace, never pausing to ask (or answer) pesky questions - but it's all in service to the story, which is fast and furious.

   Bryant also provides the art, which does a good job of evoking the setting and the era - and it doesn't hurt that he's great at drawing attractive women.

   But Athena's no pinup girl - she lets her fists do the talking, and takes no guff from anyone - especially Nazis.

   The series is a little rough around the edges, but it's a lot of fun and worth checking out for any fan of adventure serials.

Grade: A-


Monday, February 13, 2017

All New Fathom #1

   Back after a short hiatus (with the latest popular addition to the title), welcome back to the All New Fathom.

   The series stars Michael Turner's creation, Aspen Matthews, who was raised as a regular human but actually has fantastic powers thanks to her undersea heritage with the race known as The Blue.

   This issue (thankfully) dispenses with most of the backstory and instead launches into a more traditional comic book story - namely, a slugfest between Fathom and a self-styled undersea "god."

   It forces Aspen into (apparently) her first moment in the spotlight, and the aftermath is entertaining (and sadly all too accurate).

   The new writer on the series is Blake Northcott, and it's a solid first issue as it sets up a new threat for the surface world, and provides plenty of adventure along the way.

   I like the art by Marco Renna - it's attractive without tipping over into the "good girl art" category, and the action sequences are fun.

   So not exactly a reboot, but a solid return for Aspen's top character. I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes from here!

Grade: A-


Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Flash #16

   I've been enjoying the ongoing series of stories in The Flash with the return of the Rogues - it's very old school.

   But the covers have been all over the place - for example, this issue focuses on a showdown between the Flash and Heat Wave - not Mirror Master. (This seems to happen a lot with today's comics - gad, just typing it makes me sound like a geezer. But it's true!)

   Anyway, that's a minor quibble - the story's the thing.

   The Rogues have been hatching a major series of crimes during their extended absence, and here we see their plot finally revealed. Well, mostly.

   One of the things that has always set the Flash apart from his Modern Age contemporaries is his strong set of bad guys - his Rogues Gallery - and it's good to see them back in the spotlight.

   And it's great to see the Flash acting like a capable hero again.

Grade: A-


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Jessica Jones #5

   You'd expect that this "adult only" version of Jessica Jones would be grim, just like the TV series - but this one sets a new high mark. (Or should that be a low mark?)

   The story follows two seemingly-unrelated (but important) events in Jessica's life.

    One involves a client - a woman who hired Jessica to follow her husband. Before Jessica gets far into her investigation, the husband brutally murders his wife! The killer offers to confess his guilt, but he wants to talk to Jessica.

   That conversation is one of the most bleak, grim and dispiriting I've ever seen in a comic book - and it's something of a slam (perhaps unintentional) of recent "Event' comics that have shaken up the Marvel Universe.

   The other story ties into the separation between Jessica and her husband, Luke Cage (who gets some wise advice from an old friend).

   Jessica's trying to infiltrate a secret organization that's working against Earth's heroes - but at what cost to her loved ones?

   This series continues to be powerful and sharply written and drawn - but it's not for everyone and it's certainly not for young readers. Mature readers who can handle the bleakness, however, will love it.

Grade: A-



Friday, February 10, 2017

"Legion" - TV Review

   The newest entry in the "superheroes on TV" sweepstakes is also the most offbeat show so far.

   Legion is very loosely based on a character in the X-Men Universe - the incredibly powerful (but mentally unstable) child of Professor Xavier and Gabrielle Haller.

   This series doesn't follow the typical superhero mold - in fact, for the better part of the first episode, the viewer wonders what is real - and what isn't.

   The story plays out in the mind of the David Haller (Legion), a young man who's being treated at a mental health care facility. Or is he?

   His friend is the always-delightful Aubrey Plaza - and when he meets a mysterious and beautiful young woman (played by Rachel Keller) - a fellow patient at the facility - his life starts to take some really strange turns, and we get some glimpses of the forces arrayed against him - and some potential allies.

   It's a serious, disturbing story, with lots of unexpected twists and turns along the way. You won't see much in the way of typical superheroics - fighting supervillains, flying through the sky, that sort of thing - but you will see a clever, thoughtful story that will keep you guessing throughout.

   The ending opens up all-new layers of possibilities and introduces some new (and possibly familiar) characters.

   It'll be interesting to see if this series connects with the X-Men film universe, or if it's in its own reality - or (third possibility!) perhaps it's set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe!

   Finding out - and seeing where the series goes next - promises to be an entertaining prospect.

   The series isn't for everyone (and it's certainly not for children - there are some violent images here), but if you're looking for a unique take on the world of mutants, this is it!

Grade: A