Wednesday, March 30, 2016

"Batman v Superman" - Movie Review

   The good news is: Batman v Superman isn't as bad as most reviews seem to indicate.

   The bad news is: it's not a great movie.

   It wants to be and it tries really, really hard.

   It's loaded with excellent actors - Henry Cavill is larger than life and bristling with quiet strength as Superman, Ben Affleck brings real heft and angst as a (somewhat surprisingly) scene-stealing Batman, Amy Adams is a strong and intelligent Lois Lane, Gal Gadot makes a stunning Wonder Woman, and the rest of the cast is terrific (with a special shout-out to Jeremy Irons as the ascerbic and multi-talented Alfred).

     The special effects are stunning, from the high-powered fight sequences to the environments, from super rescues to street fights and city-shattering blasts. The visuals are so strong that they almost convince you that you're watching a good movie.

   Where it all falls apart is in the story and the characterization.

   The story picks up at the end of Man of Steel, reprising the massive destruction from that film's final battle, as Bruce Wayne witnesses the devastation. He becomes obsessed with the potential threat of Superman and finding a way to stop the son of Krypton. It's a goal Lex Luthor shares (for reasons that are unclear), and the discovery of a certain element from Krypton gives them a weapon to use in the war they're planning.

   But the film rambles all over the map, throwing in numerous dream sequences, over the top fight sequences (wherein Batman racks up a Punisher-like body count), a doubt-ridden Superman, a dark and depressing world devoid of humor and hope, and a final battle that doubles down on the same missteps that plagued Man of Steel.

   The filmmakers tried to cram way too much stuff into one basket, as they mixed in parts of comic book stories like The Dark Knight Returns, Doomsday,  the Justice League, and a badly misinterpreted Lex Luthor (who is depicted as being more of a lunatic than the evil genius whose mind makes him a match for the world's greatest heroes - here, he's a very rich blackmailer).

   There should be room for dark, serious superhero movies - but the problem is that the story gets the characters wrong, the battle promised in the title is over the top and unbelievable (the moment that ends the fight is almost laugh-out-loud silly), and the film is weighed down with its own grim, joyless attitude.

   I counted two laughs in the whole movie (Alfred gets one of them). The film doesn't have to be a laugh-a-minute, but it needed something to alleviate the relentless sense of doom. It came close when Wonder Woman makes her impressive entrance. She's the only character in the movie who seems to enjoy what she does, and she shines here.

   Look, I love these characters, and I've enjoyed their adventures for decades, in many different forms - from Silver Age silliness to grim and gritty conflicts and everything in between. There are so many good stories to be told using them - but this wasn't one of them. (It's also disconcerting to realize that this is a movie starring Superman and Batman and it's not suitable for young children.)

   This is supposedly setting up future Justice League movies and other spinoffs, and that's fine - but let's hope, in those films, they put as much emphasis on the story as they do on the spectacle.

   And lighten up, Francis.

Grade: C+


New Comics Day

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

- King Conan #4 - The fierce conclusion to "Wolves Beyond the Border!"

- Daredevil #5 - Final showdown with The Hand!

- Justice League of America #8 - Can the JLA defeat a god?

- Ragnarok #8 - Speaking of gods - how about a fight between Thor and a zillion fire demons?

- Saga #35 - Searching for a child.

- All-New X-Men #7 - A disturbing story about the Toad.

And that's it!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

X-O Manowar #45

   As the tension builds and an old foe returns, this issue of X-O Manowar calmly features a terrible bloodbath.

   Part of the bloodshed happens in a one-sided attack as a small army of human-looking opponents attack Aric, demanding he turn over the X-O suit (wisely, he declines).

   Another section of the bloodshed takes in a lot of innocent victims, as other forces try to frame X-O for the mass murders.

   And then there's the attack on X-O's home, and it's not looking good for his people.

   The issue includes an always-welcome guest appearance by Ninjak, and lots of action and mayhem - setting up next issue's big confrontation.

   With a strong (if unsettling) story by Robert Vendetti and powerful artwork by Robert Gill, this story of alien intrigue and power struggles continues to be compelling.


Grade: A-


Monday, March 28, 2016

Doctor Who: The Fourth Doctor #1

   It's about time they printed a Doctor Who comic featuring the real Doctor!

   Oh, I know - everyone has their own choice for the actor who played the "best" Doctor - and there have been lots of terrific actors filling those Gallifrey boots - but my personal favorite is the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker!

   That actor managed the perfect mix of humor, mischief, likability and intelligence. Part of his appeal for me, of course, may be the fact that he was the first Doctor I saw, as the local Public Television station started airing his adventures in the late '70s.

   He's starred in other comic series over the years, but Titan Comics has finally dedicated one of its new (and largely excellent) series of Doctor-based comics to number four.

   This one finds the Doctor and the beautiful Sarah Jane Smith (lovesick sigh) visiting Victorian England on a holiday, but trouble soon finds them, as a mysterious woman sends two giants - each one sporting a single eye - to capture Sarah.

   It's a fun, fast-paced story written by Gordon Rennie and Emma Beeby that reads just like an episode of the classic show. The art by Brian Williamson is terrific, capturing the real-life likenesses of the stars perfectly.

   It's a real delight to read this series - it gets the Doctor "right," and does it with a smile and a wink.

   More like this, please!

Grade: A


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Totally Awesome Hulk #4

   Four issues in and we're finally getting a handle on how Amadeus Cho became the latest version of the Totally Awesome Hulk.

   The tone of this book continues to be upbeat, making great use of the art by Frank Cho - which means you get lots of giant monsters, a sexy alien hunter trying to corral the Hulk, the She-Hulk and a few guest stars thrown in for good measure.

   While the focus is on humor, there are some poignant moments, too, as we see the inner struggle Amadeus is facing - and the lengths he was ready to go to for his friends.

   Writer Greg Pak is skillfully managing the balancing act between drama and humor, and Cho is crafting his usual amazing artwork - making this comic with the silly title a heck of a lot of fun.

Grade: A-


Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Infinity Entity #3

   I'm not sure what is more impressive - that this comic exists at all or that it's been coming out virtually every week with no sacrifice of quality!

   The Infinity Entity has been following the new and different Warlock as he tries to solve the mystery of his own existence - he wields incredible power but he doesn't know why.

   His search brings him face-to-face with a gathering of cosmic entities, including Eternity, Infinity, a Celestial, Epoch, Chaos and Order, the Stranger and the Watcher, along with the incarnations of Death, Love and Hate.

    (Interesting to note that, of the above, two were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, one by Kirby alone, one was created by Lee and Steve Ditko, and four by Jim Starlin, if we include Epoch, the "successor" to Eon. That's some serious cosmic creative forces right there.)

   Adam Warlock is operating on a huge scale here, but the final page promises some major revelations coming up next issue (though the ones in this issue are already shocking).

   With Jim Starlin writing and Alan Davis and Mark Farmer on the art, this is pure candy for any fan of Warlock (and if you're not a fan, track down those original Starlin stories - you can thank me later).

Grade: A


Friday, March 25, 2016

Batman #50

   I hate to beat up on our old friend Batman on the same weekend when his feature film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is getting mugged by reviewers, but man, was this issue a letdown.

   For the 50th issue special, we have the wrap-up of the storyline that has had Commissioner Gordon filling in as Batman while the Dark Knight has been missing (recovering from a nearly-fatal battle with the Joker).

   The story has introduced a new villain, Bloom, a monster who's part plant and part computer, able to control machines, transform people into monsters (and control them), alter his form, send out spikes that can cut through anything - in other words, he's a living Calvinball (he can apparently do anything he can imagine).

   But the real focus here is the return of Bruce (Batman) Wayne to action - or so you'd expect. Instead, he really doesn't do much other than debuting his new costume (it's a nice enough design, though I'm surprised they didn't follow the movie's template - or the video game).

   Oh, there are a few action sequences, but the story is just kind of a mess - it's been slogging on for far too long, with too many characters and subplots to manage, and the villain doesn't really make sense - and the solution to the problem makes even less sense.

   It's great to have the real Batman back, but that's about the only real takeaway here.

    (Oh, and I hope to catch the new movie in the next few days - a review will follow posthaste.)

Grade: B-


Thursday, March 24, 2016

All-New All-Different Avengers #7


   See, this is how you drive Chuck away from a title.

   I've been enjoying the All-New All-Different Avengers - it has featured smart stories written by Mark Waid and terrific art by Adam Kubert.

    It includes some nice moments between Falcon - uh, Captain America and Jane Foster - uh, Thor, and between the Vision and Ms. Marvel.

   That sets up a quick battle, a big mystery and a collision with the Uncanny Avengers team.

   And that's where this whole story jumps the tracks - to read it will require buying both titles, along with prequel and postlude issues - and the story also weaves through Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., New Avengers, Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D., Captain America: Sam Wilson, and Illuminati.

   And since I don't buy any of those comics, I have a choice - do I add more comics to my pull list, do I stick to the main titles, or do I just say "the heck with it" and drop all the Avengers titles?

   My solution is, I'll keep buying this title for the creative team. But many more stunts like this and I think I'll have no choice but to drop this title, too.

Grade: A-


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Classics - Superman #127

   Everyone has "their" Superman artist.

   I admire the work of many artists, including (though not limited to) Curt Swan, Murphy Anderson, Neal Adams, John Byrne, George Perez, Jerry Orway - you get the idea.

   But "my" Superman artist is Wayne Boring.

   I'm not claiming he's the best (though he was an excellent craftsman), but when I first discovered Superman's adventures in the late '50s, he was almost exclusively the guy drawing the adventures of the Man of Steel.

   His Superman was distinctive - a barrel chest, a big chin, and yes, a bit stiffly posed - but he was also powerful, friendly and heroic in stature - rippling with strength.

   During the decade (and more) that he worked on the title, Boring got to tackle all the classic characters, including the supporting cast and villains like Brainiac, Luthor, Metallo, and, in this issue, Titano the gigantic chimpanzee.

   Toto started life as a trained chimp, but a trip into space leads to exposure to unknown radiation, and as a result he shoots up to gigantic size - and he projects deadly kryptonite rays from his eyes!

   Superman's battle against the ersatz King Kong only succeeds thanks to Lois Lane, and the chimp's affection for her. I won't give away the ending, but the story manages a happier solution than Kong ever found.

   It was yet another outstanding job by Boring, but note that the cover above is by Curt Swan - which might explain why Titano is a gorilla on the cover instead of a giant chimpanzee. (Hey, gorillas on the cover help sell comics!).

   Soon Swan would take over the crown as the top Superman artist - but for me, my first favorite will always be Wayne Boring.

Grade: B+


New Comics Day

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

- All-New All-Different Avengers #7 - Oh boy, a multi-title crossover! (Sarcasm.)

- Badger #2 - Back in action!

- Batman #50 - A new look!

- Elfquest Final Quest #14 - Is it the end for Cutter?

- Totally Awesome Hulk #4 - Beauty and the Beast!

- Infinity Entity #3 - A cosmic collision!

- Patsy Walker Hellcat #4 - A new menace, a new... tattoo?

- Star Wars #17 - Death stalks the prison cells.

   And that's it! 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Superman #50

   Well, the "Rebirth" of DC's line can't get here soon enough.

   The interminable story that's been running through the Superman title has our hero on the ropes, with his secret identity revealed, his powers taken away and his life turned upside down by a mysterious enemy.

   With this issue the enemy is revealed, Superman's powers are restored and we seem to be headed toward a major showdown - a battle in space, as the Man of Steel makes a last-ditch effort to save the world!

   And we see all that, but they have an extra-sized issue to fill, so the creative team rounds out the issue with extended dream sequences!

   Which I hate!

   And which don't really do anything to advance the plot!

   But, hey, roll out the guest artists (the art is quite good, thankfully, if a bit of a mix of styles). Pad that anniversary issue! And don't worry about the mess left behind - it'll all get fixed in a few months.

   Hurry up, tomorrow!

Grade: C



Monday, March 21, 2016

International Iron Man #1

   Yep, it's another comic devoted to the adventures of Tony Stark, and this series apparently takes a global approach - thus the title, International Iron Man.

   But strangely enough, the issue devotes most of its time to a flashback of a particular event from Tony's college days.

   To be more specific, the focus is on his encounter with a beautiful fellow student named Cassandra - but if he's going to manage to get some, uh, quality time with her, he'll have to find a way around her bodyguards.

   It's a fun story the does eventually get around to modern times (though I'm still not sure where the "International" comes in).

   It's a sharp script by Brian Michael Bendis, with wonderful, expressive art by Alex Maleev.

   The series has Tony's "voice" down pat - and the issue manages to evoke an origin-like feel without actually recapping Iron Man's origin.


Grade: A-


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Wynonna Earp #2

   I'm really enjoying the new Wynonna Earp series, as it takes us back to the beginning of her career as a U.S. Marshal (Black Badge Division).

   She's traveling the country, hunting down assorted monsters and demons with a vengeance.

   You can tell she's young because she has almost no thought to her own safety as she launches into deadly situations and trusts that her own toughness - and some big guns - will get her out of any situation.

   This time around she travels to Malad City, a small town built around a Milk Company - but there's nothing wholesome about this business, as it serves as a distributor of human organs to assorted nasty creatures around the country.

   As always, writer / creator Beau Smith serves up an equal measure of hard-hitting action, sharp dialogue and a solid helping of humor.

    I really like Laura Innes' artwork - her characters are lively and expressive, her action scenes are hard-hitting, and she captures the humor and the horror equally well.

   The series is a good primer for the upcoming TV series set to hit the SyFy Channel starting April 1 - set your DVRs now!

Grade: A


Saturday, March 19, 2016

Superman: The Coming of the Supermen #2

   What the heck happened here?

   The first issue of this series, Superman: The Coming of the Supermen, was bristling with promise - a return to the classic character, placed in a modern setting, with lots of action and enough mysteries to keep things crackling along.

    The only difference seems to be the loss of co-writer Tony Bedard - Neal Adams is the writer and artist of this issue, with Alex Sinclair providing the color art.

   The story here just seems to lose cohesion, as things happen with little rhyme or reason. Kalibak leads an attack group from Apokolips - again - to steal... something... from Luthor's labs.

   Superman finally meets the Supermen (and expresses no surprise at their appearance), becomes furious and destructive as he tries to destroy their blood samples (Why? No idea.) Kalibak attacks a child who had befriended Superman. (How did he know about this kid?) And so much of the dialogue is awkward and clumsy.

   The art, of course, is dynamic and exciting - but the issue feels like it was written quickly and with no real plan.

   Can we drag Bedard back to assist with the writing, please? It's like a completely different series, and especially heartbreaking given the promise of the first issue.

Grade: C


Friday, March 18, 2016

Irwin Allen's Lost in Space: The Lost Adventures #1

   I'm a big fan of the original Lost in Space TV show.

   (Sue me.)

   I know, the stories and concept were silly and campy, the plots were simple, the characters were two-dimensional, the sets were cheap - but I still liked it back in the '60s, and I like it now.

   Mostly, it's the heart and the humor. The characters are likable (except for Dr. Smith, and even he is usually entertaining) - I especially liked the family aspect of the group, and the tender moments between them.

   And the Robot was always fun.

   The concept is back again in comics as American Gothic Press presents stories based on two scripts that were written for the original show by Carey Wilber - but never produced.

   That makes these stories an interesting artifact - but not necessarily a successful comic book.

   It does feels like an episode of the show - it focuses on Dr. John Robinson, pilot Don West, Robinson's son Will, and the Robot - and the characters all speak with the proper "voices." But it also feels like a "low budget" effort - there's a lot of standing around and talking, and very little plot involved.

   The "men" from the series are working on a science experiment, while hidden and mysterious aliens plot mischief. And that's about it.

   The art by Kostas Pantoulas is very good, and the images of the characters are well done - but the pacing is off, and there are several "silent" panels that seem out of place - they don't move the story forward.

   So the first issue is a bit hit-and-miss. It captures the feel of the original series well - but so far, the "episode" it's adapting isn't one of the show's better efforts.

Grade: C+



Thursday, March 17, 2016

Legends of Tomorrow #1

   I don’t understand why DC’s TV show, Legends of Tomorrow, is so much better than the comic book. (A comic, after all, has no budget restrictions to deal with - anything can happen!)

   To be fair, the comic book with that titled just started this week - and aside from featuring Firestorm, it has nothing in common with the show. 

   Instead, the oversized (and at $7.99, not at all inexpensive) issue features an odd mix of heroes, feeling for all the world like a collection of castoff ideas.

   It includes four 20-page-long stories, each one mostly focused on introducing the characters, including the Metal Men, Metamorpho and, believe it or not - Sugar & Spike.

   Firestorm is written by original creator Gerry Conway, but the story doesn’t do much more than provide a cliffhanger for the next issue.

   Metamorpho (one of my old favorites from the ‘60s) spends the entire story a prisoner of evil industrialist Simon Stagg. 

   The Metal Men, written by Len Wein, is the only standout - and is a largely self-contained story. We get info about the robotic team, a desperate rescue attempt, an introduction of the cast - all the things you need in a “first issue.”

   As for the Sugar & Spike story - I’m honestly not sure what to think. The brother and sister team originated in the Silver Age as babies who got into lighthearted mischief and adventures. Now, in the modern day, they’ve grown up to become detectives. We see them on an odd recovery mission as they have a shootout with a deadly gang in a deserted warehouse. Written by Keith Giffen, it’s funny - but I think I preferred them as infants.

   I can only assume that DC’s executives (rightly) figured none of these series could stand for long on their own, so they tried repackaging it this way.

   It still doesn’t work. 

   I wish it did - I like all these characters, but there’s nothing here that demands my attention. 


Grade: B-


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Classics - Action Comics #252

   This issue of Action Comics (#252) is famous because it's the first appearance of Supergirl, a brilliant addition to Superman's mythology - but that's not what I'm talking about in this column.

   Instead, I want to focus on the solo Superman story in the issue, which features the first appearance of his classic foe, Metallo.

   I'm pretty sure I first read the story in a mid-'60s reprint (a Superman Annual, perhaps), but it really impressed me.

   The original story from 1959 follows a criminal mastermind who has a terrible car crash - but he's discovered by a brilliant scientist who realizes the only way to save the man is to give him a robot body - one that uses uranium as a power source for his mechanical "heart."

   When he discovers that the perfect fuel for his heart is kryptonite, he becomes a formidable foe - and nearly puts an end to Superman.

   What's funny about reading the story now is that the villain - John Corben - is supposed to be a double for Superman, but he really looks like Tony Stark, and finds himself trapped in an armored form, just like the original Iron Man.

   Coincidence? Certainly.

   Still, it's a great story and surprisingly grim for the time, given the deadly conclusion to the adventure (yet somehow Metallo returned eventually - I have no idea how).

   Oh, the Supergirl story is great, too.

Grade: A-


New Comics Day

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

- Infinity Entity #2 - It's the end of the world as we know it.
- Uncanny Inhumans #6 - Fun times in the Quiet Room.
- Legends of Tomorrow #1 - A mix of lower-tier heroes, including... Sugar and Spike, grown up?
- Lost in Space #1 - A lost adventure (and a found script from the original series)!
- Spirit #9 - Has the Spirit met his match?
- Superman #50 - Fighting the immortal villain.
- Superman: Coming of the Supermen #2 - Round two with Kalibak!
- Usagi Yojimbo #153 - Turtle power!
- Wynonna Earp #2 - It's a milk run!
- All-New X-Men #6 - Showdown with the Blob!

   And that's it! 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Mandrake the Magician

   Here's further proof that we're living in a Golden Age for comic reprints!

   Mandrake the Magician is one of the first super-powered comic heroes of all time, and this full-color reprint from Titan Books focuses on Sunday pages from 1935 to 1937.

   The character seems a bit quaint these days with his top hat and tuxedo, and we can cringe a bit at the characterization of his friend Lothar, a powerful African who speaks (and sometimes acts) childishly, but often saves the day for Mandrake.

   The opening storyline also features a female assistant, the beautiful Rheeta, who has a special ability of her own - she can turn into a huge panther!

    Mandrake's powers are amazing - he can manipulate reality, levitate, cause destruction and create illusions. It would all eventually be explained as (mostly) a form of mass hypnotism, but in these early tales he's more of a miracle worker and always the master of any situation.

   The stories are by Mandrake creator Lee Falk (who also made his mark by creating the first costumed hero in comics, The Phantom), and he keeps things moving along at top speed, with lots of action, humor and a bit of sex thrown in for good measure.

   The art is by Phil Davis, and it's impressive work - imaginative and vibrant, creating strange worlds and armies of evildoers for Mandrake to face. And he's quite good at drawing beautiful women. And since the reprints cover a couple of years, you can see his improvement (and perhaps the influence of other artists) on his work.

   Loaded with imagination and energy (and a fair dollop of humor), this is a terrific series. A product of its time, certainly, but loaded with timeless entertainment.

Grade: A


Monday, March 14, 2016

The Mighty Thor #5

   Well, it's always fun when The Mighty Thor squares off against Odin (though this time around it's not a father / son hoedown).

   The All-Father has been especially pompous lately - in fact, he's been doing a good impersonation of a villain - so he's badly in need of a hammering (though that's easier said than done).

   It's all part of the continual ramping up of the story being told by writer Jason Aaron - we have civil war in Asgard between the forces loyal to Odin and those fighting against his dubious decisions; there are evil forces led by Malekith taking control of other realms, Jane Foster's ongoing health problems, and then... ah, we can't spoil that last page.

   It all keeps threatening to spin out of control, but so far Aaron is keeping it under control.

   The art is a lot of fun, too, as Russell Dauterman and color artist Matthew Wilson load up on cosmic battles, exotic locales and... well, even more battles.

   As long as the creative team can keep those plates spinning, this is going to be a fun series.

   Here's hoping!

Grade: A-


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Mockingbird #1

   You have to respect a comic that tries to be original, and that's certainly true of the new Mockingbird comic.

   That hero is really Bobbi Morse, a scientist who became an Agent of SHIELD and an Avenger.

   She has shared adventures with Ka-Zar and Hawkeye, and was married to the marksman for a while (now divorced, I believe).

   She was also dead for a while. (She got better.)

   After getting some (well-deserved) attention for her heroic turn in the Agents of SHIELD TV show (ah, Adrianna Palicki - grrrrrowl!), she's now graduated to her own series - and so far, it's not your usual comic book.

   The cover indicates an action extravaganza, but the interior is mostly about Bobbi's frequent trips... to the doctor.

   She's being monitored because of her exposure to the Super-Soldier formula and Nick Fury's life-extending Infinity Formula, which combined to make her a powerhouse.

   So SHIELD is running lots of tests to see what kind of effect those exposures are having on her - and it makes for a funny and offbeat start to the series.

   It's entertaining for what we learn - and for the mysteries behind her actions (not to mention who's sitting in the waiting room with her at each visit).

   It's an odd take on the character - and perhaps not for everyone - but I actually enjoyed it. We'll have to read a few more issues to get the whole picture, but so far the mystery - and the humor - make this a fun comic.

Grade: B+


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Doctor Strange #6

   Doctor Strange is certainly a challenging title to manage - one that has defeated some of the industry's best writers as they tried to find the right approach.

   Jason Aaron, with the new series, has found a successful formula, mixing arcane lore with some humor and a sense of the unexpected.

   He's been building to a deadly confrontation - one which threatens every magic-based character on Earth (and perhaps beyond), as the mysterious and deadly Empirikul - an army of magic-destroying creatures - finally arrives on Earth and sets out to destroy every magical outlet - including Strange, his home, and his allies.

   The art by Chris Bachalo (inked by seven different inkers. Seven!) is terrific - unique, intense and bursting with energy and power - a perfect match to the story spinning out here.

   It would be easy to complain that the story is filching a bit from Larry Niven's story, "The Magic Goes Away" (which cleverly treats magic like a natural resource), but Aaron's story is different enough to stand on its own.

   It's a great "new take" on Doctor Strange's adventures, and I can't wait to see where it goes from here.

Grade: A


Friday, March 11, 2016

The Infinity Entity #1

   This is one of those comics where I imagine the editors at Marvel sitting around and saying, "What kind of comic can we create that we know Chuck will buy?"

   So they cooked up a new comic starring Adam Warlock, written by Jim Starlin, drawn by Alan Davis and Mark Farmer, and set part of it in the earliest days of the (modern) Marvel Universe.

   So I didn't even have to pick up The Infinity Entity at the comics shop - it leapt off the racks and into my waiting arms!

   (Or perhaps it just seemed that way.)

   It's set between the events of the original graphic novel by Starlin, Thanos: The Infinity Relativity and the upcoming Thanos: The Infinity Finale - but (so far) this story stands alone, so reading those previous books is not required.

   The story picks up with Adam undergoing some strange experiences as he finds himself lost in space and tries to unravel the cosmic mystery that his life has become.

   That leads to an encounter with the early version of a certain well-known team - and a surprisingly one-sided fight.

   I'm not sure what to make of the "new" Warlock, but I'm thrilled to see him back in action and being written by Starlin, who created the definitive version of the character in the '70s.

   The art is terrific and the story is compelling - what more could you want?

Grade: A


"Captain America: Civil War" Trailer

   Just in case you've been out of the country, Marvel has released the new trailer for Captain America: Civil War - and it's excellent (here's hoping the movie manages a better ending than the comic book).

   Check it out:

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

New Comics Day

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

- Doc Savage #4 - Searching for an evil mastermind.

- Doctor Strange #6 - Is it the last days of magic?

- Guardians of the Galaxy #6 - Run for your life!

- Infinity Entity #1 - Warlock - and Jim Starlin - take us back to the beginning.

- Mockingbird #1 - What's the problem with Bobbi?

- Starfire #10 - Fighting at the center of the Earth!

- Mighty Thor #5 - Fighting with Odin!

   And that's it!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Checking In

   Apologies for the lack of posts for the past few days - I've been recovering from a personal tragedy.

   My mother passed away a few days ago.

   It's a hard thing to bear, though it wasn't a surprise - she had been in poor health for the last couple of years, and the last few months have been especially difficult for her.

   But it's still a shock to lose her - she was a wonderful, giving person who devoted much of her life to caring for others. Her funeral was a wonderful celebration of her life and how much people loved her.

   I appreciate your patience with me - I expect to be back to publishing on Wednesday.

   Hug your loved ones, folks - you never know how much time you have together.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Black Widow #1

   Now that's how you do a first issue.

   Black Widow arrives in a new series and lands - eventually - running full-tilt.

   It doesn't hurt that the comic has a top-tier creative team: writer Mark Waid, artist Chris Samnee, and color artist Matthew Wilson.

   The trio stepped over from their award-winning stint on Daredevil, and they're bringing the same fun sensibility to this series.

   It's important to make a good impression with the first issue (something far too many "firsts" fail to do), and here they hit it out of the park with an action extravaganza.

   The issue starts with Natasha on the run from a surprising army of opponents, and every time you think she's finished... she ain't finished.

   The art is phenomenal, feeling for all the world like some Jim Steranko might have cooked up (though it's not drawn in his style) - it's a perfectly crafted action fest!

   We kick the series off with a massive mystery, and I can't wait to see where it goes from here.

   Highly recommended!

Grade: A+


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Classics - The Question #1

   Not every character can survive being updated, but The Question managed it.

   Originally created by Steve Ditko for Charlton Comics in 1967, the hero known as The Question had a terrific look (if that's the right word).

   The hero was investigative reporter Vic Sage, a hard-hitting crusader who wore the most unusual mask of them all - a putty-like construct that made his face a blank, with no visible eyes, nose or mouth.

   Other than that, he had no powers - but he was an accomplished fighter.

   The hero was revived when DC bought the rights to the Charlton Heroes (including Captain Atom and Blue Beetle), but by 1986 comics were moving into grim and gritty territory, and The Question followed suit.

    The story by Dennis O'Neil took Sage into nasty territory, investigating slimy government agencies, which brings him up against a deadly crime boss.

   It also pits him against Lady Shiva, a deadly assassin who may be too much for even The Question.

   The issue features terrific art by Denys Cowan and Rick Magyar, but what made the issue memorable was the cliffhanger ending.

   That's something that has become a regular thing - every comic wants a chic to bring the reader back next time, but I can't remember many that was more shocking - or more effective - than this one.

   You can't read those final pages without being convinced that The Question is dead - surely the next issue was going to introduce a new hero with the same name.

   Nope! Through a clever twist, O'Neil and Cowan manage to "kill" their hero - only to bring him back in the next issue.

   It was a strong series with some great stories and characters. Recommended!

Grade: A


New Comics Day

  After last week's bonanza, much slimmer pickings today.
  Here's what I picked up at the comics shop:

- Batgirl #49 - Black Canary visits - and Babs has a mixed-up mind!

- Black Widow #1 - Waid and Samnee together again!

- Iron Man #7 - Mary Jane Watson joins the team!

- Spider-Man #2 - In the fight of his life!

- Swamp Thing #3 - Zatanna pays a visit!
   And that's it! 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

All-New X-Men #5

   This is the first issue of (the latest version of) All-New X-Men that really didn't work for me.

   That's because everyone - including the bad guy - acts like they have no sense.

   It all starts with the Blob brutally beating up the new Wolverine. He's angry because he has some kind of huge animal he's killed and he can't get a chef to cook it. First World problems, am I right?

   The rest of the X-Men just kind of wander in and out of the scene, with a few side trips for some romantic angst and lots of destruction to the beautiful city of Paris.

   And one of the team members yells at God, a scene that just seems to hop in there out of left field.

   It's the damage to Paris that really bothers me. Such a beautiful city, it deserves better.

   (But then. so do X-Men fans.)

Grade: B-