Friday, September 23, 2016

Trinity #1

   Apparently there's a new movement in comics.

   Most comics try to end each issue on a cliffhanger, to keep the reader coming back next issue.

   But the idea now seems to be: make the final page of the issue a complete mystery, so the reader will come back to find out what the heck just happened. (Both DC and Marvel have been guilty of this lately - I'm looking at you, Civil War II.)

   I have to tell you, that doesn't work with me.

   Case in point: the new series Trinity, which features Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.

   But don't buy this issue expecting some kind of action-packed adventure. Instead, it features those three powerful figures getting together... for dinner.

   (You heard me.)

   There's a lot of nice art on display here - Francis Manapul is one of the most creative artists working in the business today, and if you like double-page spreads of each hero in a poster-style pose, you'll get that here.

   But the story, also by Manapul, is mighty thin. And I have no idea what's going on in that final page.

   So will I be back for the next issue? (Shakes Magic 8-Ball. It reads: "Probably Not.")

Grade: B-


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Justice League #5

   This issue mercifully brings an end to the storyline, "The Extinction Machine."

   I say mercifully because I've seen each issue in the series and I'm still not sure what was going on here.

   Maybe the problem is me. Stories like this make me think, "Maybe I'm not smart enough to appreciate this one."

   (Then I think, "Nah, that's not it.")

   It follows the Justice League as they confront numerous menaces to the world - including several deep below the surface of the Earth, zooming in from deep space, stealing powers from heroes, and (for some reason) Aquaman is placing crystals at different locations.

   It all involves some kind of threat that promises to destroy the world. But it the menace from outside our world - from within - or on the surface?

   If you spot the answer in this issue, let me know, because it's all very vague and science-fictiony but it never manages to tell the story in a clear fashion.

   Here's hoping the next storyline makes sense.

Grade: B-


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Civil War II #5 (of 8)

   So finally we get down to the no-holds-barred, "big ol' pile of superheroes fighting another big ol' pile of superheroes" part of our program.

   Which is pretty much what you'd expect from Civil War II.

   And this issue delivers in spades as the heroes who support Iron Man get into a fight with the ones who support Captain Marvel.

   But there are things about the groupings that make no sense. Don't the mutants (like the X-Men) hate the Inhumans for what the Terrigen Mist has done? So why are some of them fighting on the same side?

   And the Guardians of the Galaxy have been friends / allies with both IM and CM - so why would they choose a side and jump into the fight?

   Actually, that's the thing about this series that I can't shake - the sense that writer Brian Michael Bendis is using this as a platform to promote the various series that he writes (Iron Man, Guardians, Spider-Man) instead of crafting an expansive story using everyone in the Marvel universe.

   But the art by David Marquez is terrific and there's plenty of "Holy cow" moments - even if they don't always make much sense, and we still don't understand what is happening with the Inhuman Ulysses and his powers.

   But if you're looking for lots of action, this issue checks that box!

Grade: A-


New Comics Day

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

- Archie #12 - Farewell to Veronica?

- Civil War II #5 (of 8) - All-out combat!

- Guardians of the Galaxy #12 - Joining the Civil War.

- Justice League #5 - The end at last?

- Karnak #5 - A philosophical duel.

- Superman #7 - A trip to the fair.

- Mighty Thor #11 - Thor meets Jane Foster?

- Trinity #1 - The big three sit down... for dinner.

   And I received a review copy of:

- Britannia #1 - The glory of Rome meets the terror of Britannia!

And that's it!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Guest Review - Birthright #19

   Stepping into the Guest Reviewer spotlight today is my pal Jerry Smith, a longtime comic fan who also posts regularly on his own (quite excellent) pop culture and comics blog, which you can read at (highly recommended!).

   His review covers one of his Image comics: Birthright

   Here's Jerry:

   Birthright is a fantasy comic from Image that grabs readers like crack on toast. Mikey was kidnapped as a child to a fantasy world called Terrenos, where he trained as a warrior to fight the evil Lore. Now he is back in Earth, reconnecting with his family and running from the authorities. 

   This issue delves into many of the book’s mysteries, including the identity of Mikey’s grandfather and his connections to Terrenos.

   Birthright #19 contains massive battles with extremely angry wizards, some great character interaction between Mikey and his father and brother (and his conniving grandfather), and one heck of a cliffhanger ending. I won’t give it away, let’s just say Mikey’s dad and brother let loose a creature that may give them a chance against all those annoyed wizards. But the cure may be worse than the disease.

   The story also features flashbacks from Terrenos and reveals why the wizards are so irate. It seems they have actually have valid reasons, and said grandfather is at the center of it all! 

   This is one of my favorite monthly comics and one of the top books published by Image. If you like high fantasy, you’ll love Birthright.

Grade: A


Monday, September 19, 2016

The Forevers #1

   If you're looking for a comic that's definitely for adults, here's a new series that definitely qualifies.

   The Forevers gives us seven central characters - friends who take part in some kind of mystic ceremony.

   So what effect does it have? Well, it's not exactly clear (at least not until the afterword offers some information), but the focus falls on three of the seven.

   Two have achieved fame and fortune (which also translates into drug addiction and debachery). But when one is killed, and then death stalks another, it sends shock waves through the group.

   It's a smart, gritty and adult story by Curt Pires - definitely not for young readers.

   The painted art by Eric Scott Pfeiffer is impressive - moody and dark with horror undertones.

   It's a strong (if sometimes mystifying) start to the series, and one that shows no signs of veering into superhero territory.

Grade: B+


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Doctor Who 3rd #1

   I was trying to decide what to review next when I remembered this comment last Wednesday from my pal Sam Kujava: "I picked up Doctor Who 3rd #1 (as you list it) and quite liked it. The artist did a fine job capturing the likenesses of the main characters and the writer had a feel for British dialog of that time period. The characters sounded like themselves, and the reader was drawn into the unfolding events that much quicker. 
   The last page cliffhanger was surprising and delightful! I can't wait for the second issue to arrive!"
   I couldn't have said it better! The issue focuses on the Third Doctor, as played by Jon Pertwee - yet another terrific choice to fill the role, he offered an intelligent and athletic take on the character, packed behind a vivid, hound-dog-like face. You immediately like him.
   This issue feels like an episode of the original series as the Doctor and his military friends in U.N.I.T. (led by The Brigadier) - plus his lovely and capable assistant, Jo Grant - face an alien invasion by a strange, robotic menace.
    The story is by Paul Cornell and the art, which nicely captures the feel of the series and the look of the characters, is by Christopher Jones.
    If you're any kind of fan of The Doctor, I think you'll really enjoy this one. 
   I'm with Sam - I can't wait 'til the next issue!
Grade: A

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Superwoman #2

  I get the feeling there's a really good comic buried somewhere inside this issue.

   Written and drawn by Phil Jimenez, Superwoman is jam-packed with... stuff.

   There are dramatic events, as we follow up on the (apparent) death of one of the two Superwomen (yep, there's two of them - or at least there were two in the first issue).

   It involves Lex Luthor and an apparent plot against him. We also meet the love interest of Superwoman - Steel.

   There's an interview with the police that seems pointless. There are mysterious villains (I have no idea who they are, except for the one who pops up on the shocking final page), attacks on the city by other villains, an attack that seems to have no effect, and a hero (the title character) who spends most of the comic sick and feeling sorry for herself.

   The art is terrific, of course, but the story is almost impenetrable, with references to previous stories and relationships that I know nothing about.

   I want to like this series, but I'm really struggling - while reading it, I feel like it's issue 20, and I'm way behind on the central plot points.

    Your mileage may vary.

Grade: B