Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Justice League of America #10

   This was a series I expected to love - and this Bryan Hitch written and drawn version of the Justice League of America certainly started out strong - but it sputtered, fell way behind schedule and, with this issue, finally limps across the finish line.
   How late is it? It's been almost 17 months since the first issue appeared, and more than three months since the last one. (Not to mention the fill-in, cover-the-missed-deadline issue.)

   As a result, it's hard to remember the story points. As best as I can manage, the Kryptonian god Rao came to Earth promising to cure all ills - and he delivered, healing the sick, ending poverty and hunger, and so on.

   Of course, there's a secret agenda at work, and it soon became apparent that he was threatening all life on Earth.

   There were side stories, with the League split up and tackling different problems - and somehow Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) winds up on ancient Krypton, where he meets a younger Rao - and the entire planet is transported to our modern-day galaxy, where an army of 250,000 super-powered warriors threaten to destroy the Earth. Oh, and modern day Rao still plans his own brand of destruction.

   And on and on. The art in this final issue is by Tom Derrick, Daniel Henriquez and Scott Hanna, all doing a creditable imitation of Hitch's unique, larger-than-life style.

   With Hitch writing the new (regular) Justice League comic, this series was wrapped up with Tony Bedard providing the script - and it's a creditable job.

   But the series just became too big and too convoluted to end well - so we can be happy that we finally did get an ending. Thanks for that, DC.

   And I still think this was a great concept - a series using the top DC stars, placed outside of regular continuity (so no pesky problems with losing a star to some overarching story), written and drawn by one of the industry's top creators.

   It should have worked! But meeting those deadlines and keeping the story focused are vital parts of the equation.

   Maybe next time!

Grade: B-


New Comics Day

 A light week for me - a mere four comics (plus the "Comic Book History of Comics #1" - which I had missed two weeks ago).

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

- Black Widow #8 - Those kids are top to no good.

- Totally Awesome Hulk #12 - Fighting monsters.

- Justice League of America #10 - Is this really the end of the long-running Bryan Hitch-drawn JLA?

- Saga #40 - One of the best books out there.

   And I received review copies of:

- Doctor Who 12th Year Two #12

- Doctor Who 3rd #3

- Faith #5

- Hard Case Crime Peepland #2

- No Angel #1

- Savage #1

- Tank Girl Gold #2

- The Skeptics #2

- Torchwood #3

- Vikings Uprising #3

   And that's it! 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Classics - Strange Tales #126 and 127

    Just a few months before this series hit the stands, fans could tell that Doctor Strange was getting a following.

   He shared Strange Tales with the Human Torch, but he was finally getting significant attention on the cover (Jack Kirby penciled his appearance on #126, for example) - and he was also featured in that cool upper-left-hand-corner art box that Marvel created in the early '60s.

   He was given 10 pages of story space (the Torch got 13 pages), and Stan Lee and Steve Ditko used it to expand their stories - and blow the minds of the readers.

   These issues featured a (rare, at the time) continued story, as Strange faces his greatest enemy for the first time - the ruler of the Dark Dimension, the Dread Dormammu (which, according to the movie, is pronounced "Door-Ma'am-Moo" - so I had it right all along).

   The story allows Ditko to run wild with inventive images as he creates an unearthly environment, with flat, floating spaces serving as doorways. Pathways wind with no regard to gravity or logic, creatures of all shapes and sizes thrive, and Strange must face overwhelming odds.

   These are the stories that really drive readership - a great, powerful opponent, a never-before-seen environment, and high stakes for the coming battle, with the fate of the Earth hanging in the balance.

   A couple of notes: happily, this Dormammu is human-sized, so he and Strange can go toe-to-toe and fight as equals. Years later, Dormammu was depicted as a towering giant, and he's been that ever since (mostly), including in the movie. I've never cared for it. Also, the coloring is different, as his head is enveloped in blue flames and smoke - later appearances would change it to red, which was much more effective.

   Strange is faced with an impossible task - defeating the foe who once defeated his master, the Ancient One. Even with a slight assist from the lovely Clea, who makes her first appearance, he's outmatched.

   The plot twist that allows Strange to survive his battle - and "win" (sorta kinda) was brilliant, and serves to show both Strange and Dormammu in a good light - making him a better hero and Dormammu a worthy villain with personality - not just a monster.
   At the end of the adventure, Strange receives a gift from his teacher - a new Amulet of Agamotto and the Cloak of Levitation (which is oddly colored all yellow here).

   If there was any doubt that Doctor Strange belonged in the Marvel Universe, this adventure closed the deal.

   One of my all-time favorites!

Grade: A+


Monday, November 28, 2016

Guest Review: Life, Death, and Sorcery: A Hundred Days in the Future Part 2

   Stepping in with a guest review today is my pal James Cassara, with a look at a new comic series:


   Chapter House Comics is one of several smaller companies trying to establish themselves as an alternative to the superhero heavy output of Marvel and DC. 

   Based on the handful of books I’ve sampled from them their track record is, purely on percentages, considerably better than the Big Two.  

   Part of this is my disinterest in modern day superhero comics - having read them for 50 years the genre has long ago run its course for me - while the notion of any company branching out into areas that don’t involve guys in tights beating the heck out of each other appeals to me on many levels. 

   Of course when a publisher’s entire output is a fraction of DC and Marvel’s, the great and not so great are considerably more obvious.

   On the recommendation of my shop owner who, like any great retailer knows the tastes of their clientele, I gave Life, Death, and Sorcery a provisional try. 

   It appears to be created solely by Danny Zabbal (his is the only name on the credits) who draws in a clean, crisp, easily followed style that is pleasing to the eye. 

   The story revolves around Amelia, a 15 year old runaway from an unhappy home. I gather her parents are divorced, her father seems overwhelmed in raising Amelia and her two younger sisters, and things in general seem to be falling apart for her.  

   To complicate matters further Amelia seems possessed of an inner voice that intermittently gives her directions which she feels compelled to follow.

   That’s a lot of assumption on my part which points to the biggest challenge of this comic. Having missed the first issue I have scant idea what is going on, and after two thorough readings I am still unclear. 

   Remember the days when continued story comics provided an opening synopsis of “What has gone before?” Life, Death, and Sorcery is badly in need of such.  

   This lack of certainty, coupled with a story that in 25 very well drawn pages (reminiscent of The Hernandez Brothers, who appear to be a strong influence) barely nudges forward, left me feeling as if I’d just missed the train. 

   It ends with the introduction of an interesting SF element that seems to offer promise, but I am not sure if it’s enough to draw me back for a third issue.  

   I so wanted to love this comic and it certainly has much to offer. But darn, it is no fun to read a comic and not fully know what the heck is going on.  

   Publishers take note!  

Grade: B-


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Usage Yojimbo #159

   The Usage Yojimbo series is tough to review because... well, it's always excellent! (I have the same problem with Saga.)

   It makes it tough to review because... what can I say? "It's another great issue, everyone!"

   And this issue fits the mold!

   It's called "The Hatamoto's Daughter," and it involves a brutal attack that claims the life of a high-ranking samurai, leaving behind his young daughter.

   Usagi finds her and brings the girl back to her village - but she holds a secret that brings the attention of the underworld - and a gang of murderous thugs.

    The issue guest-stars one of my favorite supporting characters in the series - Inspector Ishida, a take-no-nonsense lawman who's great at solving mysteries - and by the end of the issue, he has one to deal with.

   One of the strengths of the series, of course, is the fact that - despite being set in feudal Japan - it lends itself to almost every genre, including some cracking good detective stories.

   When I picked this issue up, someone at the comics shop asked if I was a fan of "animal" characters. The short answer is that I don't see Usagi (or his supporting cast) as animals - they're terrific characters involved in amazing stories!

   Their appearance doesn't really enter into it - and it doesn't hurt that the art by writer / artist Stan Sakai is always terrific!

   Highly recommended!

Grade: A


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Wynonna Earp: Legends: Doc Holliday #1

   When an actor is tapped to write a comic book that features his or her onscreen character, I tend to cringe a little - good acting doesn't always translate to writing ability.

    Thankfully, my fears were groundless with Wynonna Earp: Legends: Doc Holliday, which is written by Tim Rozon, who plays Doc on the excellent TV series - and Wynonna creator Beau Smith.

   They've crafted an opening chapter that manages to stay true to the characters and creates a nasty new villain in the process.

   The story brings a trio of Black Badges - Wynonna, Doc Holliday and the warrior woman Valdez - to Portland, searching for a paranormal mass murderer.

   What they find is an old enemy Doc knows all too well - and he may be too much for even three lawmen / women.

   The art (and the cover above) is by Chris Evenhuis, who has a clean, powerful style that draws you in and won't let go - and his character designs are spot on. Add in strong layouts and lots of energy - it's impressive work!

   And I shouldn't have worried about Rozon - by all reports, he's a comic fan, so he knows the territory. And his first effort here is solid as a rock!

   (And if bad guy Boone Helm doesn't give you the creeps, no one will.)

Grade: A







Friday, November 25, 2016

The Flash #11

   There are certain characters who become the "property" of specific writers or artists.

   Sandman (Dream), for example, should only be written by Neil Gaiman. Elektra should only be written by Frank Miller. And The Shade should be the property of James Robinson.

   But the latter turns up here, guest-starring in the latest storyline in The Flash.

   But there are extenuating circumstances - after all, The Shade was a foe of the original Earth-2 Flash (Jay Garrick). He also fought Barry (Flash) Allen in the '60s.

   But Robinson took the character and crafted him into a great anti-hero in the pages of Starman - and that's who we see in this story.

    The story takes Flash and the new Kid Flash into the Shadowlands - the dark dimension that's the source of The Shade's powers.

   Written by Joshua Williamson and drawn by Davide Gianfelice, this story is (so far) one of the best Flash stories in recent memory - it strips out a lot of the unneeded side stories and focuses on a straightforward adventure, one that focuses on both Flashes and gives them a chance to be heroic.

   They even have a good handle on The Shade, which makes it easier to accept when other hands are all over a beloved concept.

   So far, so good.

Grade: B+



Support Your Local Blog!

   With the holiday shopping frenzy upon us, it seems like a good time to remind you, gentle reader, than you can support Chuck's Comic of the Day without actually sending any money our way (though that's always welcome, too).

   It's easy: if you decide to shop for something at, go to the site by clicking on the Amazon link on the right-hand side of this page.

   When you use that link to shop at Amazon, a small percentage of each sale comes back to us here, all at no extra cost to you.

  ( Of course, your pal Chuck uses the money to buy more comics-related material - just what he needs!)

   You can find the link over there - or right here.

   And thanks for your support!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Death of X #4 (of 4)

   From time to time the major comics companies will put out a comic that arrives, basically, as a heartfelt "UP YOURS" to longtime comics fans.

   Here's one now.

   The final issue of Death of X is meant to seal the deal, to show us why the Inhumans and the X-Men must fight (in an upcoming Event mini-series, natch).

   And we get a little bit of that. The Inhumans set loose on the world two clouds of Terrigen Mist (exposure to it reveals a small number of normal people as Inhumans and gives them some kind of power).

   But exposure to the mists has terrible (often fatal) effects on mutants - so the X-Men decide to destroy those clouds.

   Of course, instead of sitting down and talking about solutions, the two opposing forces instead fight to the death - even though there's no reason for the fight to escalate that far.

   The story rather casually, almost as an afterthought, takes out a character who I've been a fan of since my earliest days as a reader (we're talking early '60s here), and it's terribly wasteful and pointless.

   It does have this effect: I'll be avoiding the mini-series that follows, along with the spinoff storylines. Perhaps if they ever get around to correcting the numerous (and egregious) harms they've inflicted on both the X-books and the Inhumans (numerous deaths and ongoing character assassinations), I'll return.

   But I'm not holding my breath waiting.

Grade: D


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Civil War II #7 (of 8)

   It's safe to say that the Civil War II mini-series is better than the first Civil War mini-series - but that's faint praise.

   The fact is, they're both a mess.

   The original series was dopey because it was just a thin excuse for a conflict between heroes - the conflict could have been settled by Iron Man and Captain America over dinner, avoiding needless deaths and loads of destruction.

   Now "II" is apparently veering into the same nonsensical territory, as the story starts breaking down.

   This issue checks in with the Inhuman named Ulysses as he has a vision of the distant future, of a dystopian world and its (possible) cause.

   We see Spider-Man (Miles Morales), who appeared in a vision of the future as the murderer of a certain high-profile hero, as he arrives at the scene of that crime. Why? Who knows?

   The issue wraps up with yet another brutal fight between heroes. Why are they fighting? Who knows?

   I keep hoping this story will take a surprising turn and reveal the clever twist I haven't spotted yet.

   Instead, it keeps grinding out the same ol' stuff - silly fights, meaningless crossover, useless deaths and plot points that will be forgotten in six months. (Heck, they still haven't wrapped up key points from the Original Sin series two years ago - perhaps they hope we've forgotten about it by now.)

   There's still time - there's one more issue in this series - but I expected more from writer Brian Michael Bendis. (To be fair, the art by David Marquez is excellent.)

Grade: B-


New Comics Day

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

- Civil War II #7 (of 8) - Cap vs. Spider-Man?

- Death of X #4 (of 4) - Who lives and who dies?

- Elfquest Final Quest #17 - My comics shop owner said, "I think this is the last issue in the series." He's wrong.

- Flash #11 - Lost in the darkness.

- Future Quest #7 - When heroes collide!

- Groo Fray of the Gods #3 - The rise of a god!

- Mighty Thor #13 - Teaming up!

- Usagi Yojimbo #159 - Saving an innocent.

- Wynonna Earp Legends: Doc Holliday #1 - Taking on the ultimate evil.

     And I received review copies of:

- Assassins Creed #13

- Bloodshot USA #2

- Doctor Who 10th Year Two #16

- Doctor Who 9th #7

- Flash Gordon Dailies Vol 2 The Lost Continent

- Mandrake the Magician Dailies Vol 1

- Masked #1

- Ninjak #21

    And that's it!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Classics - Strange Tales #117

   As best as I can remember, this issue of Strange Tales from 1964 was my first encounter with Dr. Strange.

   I was a big fan of the Fantastic Four, so it was natural to want to follow the solo adventures of the Human Torch in this title.

   The adventures rarely lived up to the stories in the FF, but they were still fun and each issue included backup fantasy or science fiction stories, mostly drawn by Steve Ditko and written by Stan Lee.

   This issue's conflict with the Eel was pretty straightforward stuff, with a bit of humor injected by Johnny Storm's visiting teammates.

   The distribution of Strange Tales was pretty spotty, I assume, since I'd go months without seeing a new issue. So even though Dr. Strange premiered back in issue #110 and appeared in #111, finally becoming a regular feature with #114, I had missed him - until #117.

   My only memory of reading that first encounter is that I was absolutely fascinated. Ditko's art was amazing to view - dark, shadowy, loaded with mood and texture and unusual characters.

   There was no origin provided, but the story was clear and easy to follow. The story followed a mystic attack by the evil Baron Mordo, first on Dr. Strange and his home - and then on his teacher, the Ancient One.

      Trapped in his home (which has been moved to an unknown dimension), Strange releases his ethereal self (his astral form) and seeks out Mordo - only to be trapped again in a cylinder of mystic energy.

   Mordo leaves to attack his aged foe, and Strange must escape and rescue his teacher.

   And let me point out that all this happens - from beginning to final battle, in the space of eight pages!

   The main character is still in his formative stages here. There's no scarlet Cloak of Levitation (he wears a dark blue cape), the Eye of Agamotto is a small, square amulet (he receives the Eye and Cloak in a later adventure), and his eyes have a squinted, somewhat oriental look to them (they're eventually drawn as Caucasian eyes) - but his tunic, tights and gloves stay mostly the same.

   But even at this early stage - this is his sixth adventure - the format is set, and a mystic world of menaces and challenges is established.

   After this issue I made a greater effort to find Strange Tales, and I missed only a few. The Torch's adventures never quite caught on - he'd eventually be replaced by the more dynamic Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD - but Dr. Strange's adventures just got better and more incrfedible with each issue.

Grade: A


Monday, November 21, 2016

Double Take Collections

   Surely the credit for being one of the most ambitious of the non-mainstream comics publishers has to go to the company known as Double Take, which created a diverse line made up of 10 new titles, each separate but joined in continuity because they're all set in the world of the late-'60s cult favorite film Night of the Living Dead.

   Now the company has gone one better and released collections of the first five issues of all 10 series, all gathered in two boxed sets.

 Each title has a one-word title: Honor, Rise, Slab, Spring, Home, Remote, Medic, Dedication, Soul and  Z-Men.

   Crafted by a small army of writers (including Marvel veteran Bill Jemas) and even more artists, some of the series interconnect as we see different views of the attack of the zombies in Pennsylvania - and how that disaster affected normal people caught in the path (Rise), and how military and political forces responded (Z-Men).

   The books are quite diverse, from straightforward horror (Medic) to offbeat workplace humor (Remote) to college frat hi-jinks (Slab) and even bizarre science fiction (Spring).

   Taken as a whole, the series is impressive for its scope and goals. It struggles a bit with the execution - some stories are quite good, some just kind of meander oddly and some never quite get to the point.

   The artwork is equally mixed - there are some striking covers that don't always relate to the books interiors, and the art ranges from very good to just OK.

   But fans of horror - and zombies in particular - will no doubt be interested to see this take on the classic zombie film - the one that brought the concept to the attention of filmgoers around the world (though of course the concept of zombies was around long before the '60s).

Grade: B


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye #2

   The Young Animal series is still all shiny and new, so I wasn't sure what to expect - especially with Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye, since it focuses on an obscure DC hero who happens to be an old favorite of mine.

   And while the story bears little resemblance to those adventures in the 1960s, it does provide a rip-snorting tale of a man standing up for his family and loved ones, and making some hard choices.

   Of course, this version from writers Gerard Way and Jon Rivera is not at all appropriate for young readers - there's adult language and brutal violence throughout - but the story is building in very interesting and harrowing ways.

   It involves a mystery involving an underworld civilization Cave discovered long ago - and it connects to his tough-as-nails daughter, who finds herself fighting for her life against strange and mysterious assailants.

   Throw in some corporate intrigue, the return of a classic vehicle, a surprising guest star, some info about the origin of Cave's titular eye, and cap it off with some powerful, energetic art by the amazing Michael Avon Oeming, and you have a great comic.

   There are just enough Easter eggs to keep old fans happy, and lots of new story points to pull in new readers.

   Highly recommended! (But not for kids.)

Grade: A-


Saturday, November 19, 2016

Justice League #9

   For some reason the "Rebirth" version of the Justice League isn't working for me.

   The problem isn't the lineup, since it's mostly made up of DC's top-tier characters (although it's irritating that Green (Hal Jordan) Lantern has been off Earth for years now and unavailable for inclusion - so we have instead the two GLs who "replaced" him).

   The art is strong - it's by Neil Edwards and Daniel Henriques, both doing a creditable version of Bryan Hitch's "amped realism" style.

   The plot is serviceable, as the team fights against their teammate Green (Simon Baz) Lantern's ring, which has been taken over by a malevolent entity.

   But the problem boils down to writer Bryan Hitch's approach, which (for lack of a better explanation) amounts to everyone in the issue screaming constantly.

    The issue is packed with action sequences as the constructs of the power ring threaten the lives of the different members of the League - all while Batman trades barbs with Alfred as he seeks out the source of the problem.

   I assume that Hitch is aiming for the same kind of "wide-screen" mega-event that characterized his work on the Ultimates and the Authority - but with all the frenzy, there's no opportunity to get to know any of these characters - nor do we have a reason to root for them.

   The fact that we're already familiar with most of them doesn't mean we like them. Give us a reason, allow a few quiet moments, show why they're friends, and why they like to work together.

   It's a bit tricky when you're dealing with characters who have their own titles, too - but there's plenty of room between the lines for friendship and building character.

Grade: B-


Friday, November 18, 2016

Doctor Strange #14

   Hey, it's Doctor Strange week!

   (At least on this blog it is - your pal Chuck was running late seeing the movie.)

    The latest version of Stephen's adventures continues to be solidly entertaining. This issue follows up on the devastating aftermath of a battle that left the Earth's magic damaged or destroyed, and now Strange's old enemies are trying to take advantage.

   After barely surviving an attack by Nightmare last issue, here he's stuck in a real Hell's Kitchen - one operated by another old enemy, the beautiful and deadly Satana.

    This is not a place you'd want to visit if you're hungry - the items on the menu are unsavory (even for the Doc, who apparently eats horrible stuff as a side effect of his work in the mystic arts).

   What follows is a nasty case of - well, you know what happens when you eat something terrible.

   It's a funny (if grisly) tale of nourishment gone wrong, all told tongue in cheek (so to speak).

   It's fertile ground for writer Jason Aaron and artist Chris Bachalo (working here with five inkers), and it's a lot of fun for the reader - if you have the stomach for it.

Grade: A-


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Doctor Strange - Movie Review

   I keep going into Marvel's movies fearing the worst.

   Surely they're going to stumble eventually and make a movie I don't like. Right?

   I thought that about Guardians of the Galaxy, I suspected it about Ant-Man - and I felt it about Doctor Strange.

   Happily, in each case, my fears were groundless. Even though each of those three movies was based on characters that are (to the general public) rather obscure, the films each proved that a strong story, great acting, powerful visuals and a dash of humor can go a long way.

   The story of Dr. Stephen Strange, though, is especially problematic. Most heroes are already good guys who are granted amazing abilities (Captain America, Spider-Man) or are born to it (Thor, Black Panther) or are already outstanding and their abilities spring from that (Iron Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow) or they're caught in a terrible accident (Hulk, Fantastic Four).

   But Strange is, let's face it: a jerk.

   As created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Strange is a brilliant surgeon who looks down on his fellow man, until a car accident damages his hands and leaves him unable to operate. He seeks out help from the world of science, and when that fails he turns to mystic solutions - and that brings him in contact with the Ancient One, who introduces him to the world of magic - and he finds himself in the middle of a deadly war that could ultimately destroy the world.

   The movie's visuals are absolutely brilliant. There are some Ditko-esque alternate dimensions on display, and some Inception-based city-bending moments, but the movie goes far beyond that and offers up some stunning vistas. As many have advised, this is definitely one to see in 3-D.

   The story is strong, too, with a genuine threat, some heartfelt moments, and an actual character arc for Strange as he learns to translate his skills as a surgeon into more mystical efforts.

   The cast is very good, with Benedict Cumberbatch managing to make Strange appealing even when he's at his cocky worst. Always smart, extremely capable and with a dry sense of humor, I like this portrait of the hero a lot. (Strange and Tony Stark really must meet in the movies someday.)

   The lovely Rachel McAdams (Dr. Christine Palmer) injects some heart and humor at just the right moments.

   The most controversial thing about the movie is Tilda Swinton's role as The Ancient One, and I understand the irritation - I was hoping to see the elderly Asian from the comic books. But Swinton is so good as the teacher - a commanding presence, sometimes gentle, sometimes terrifying - that it's easy to understand the decision.

   Chiwetal Ejiofor is excellent as Mordo, and long-time fans may be surprised at his role here.

   Mads Mikkelsen makes on of the best Marvel villains to date - smart, conniving, powerful - as Kaecilius, a magician lured into rebellion by dark forces.

   Benedict Wong plays, of course, Wong, who is much more than a manservant here - he also gets some fine heroic and comic relief moments.

   The only flaws I saw in the movie were the fact that it's darker than the usual Marvel fare - and it was slowed a bit by "origin-itis" (there was a lot to explain here). But those are minor quibbles, and the movie is way too much fun for those things to get in the way.

    What can I say? It's nother terrific film for Marvel, and once again, my fears were unfounded (thank goodness)!

   Highly recommended!

Grade: A


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Jessica Jones #2

   Let me start by saying how happy I am to see a genuine Parent's Advisory on the finished cover to Jessica Jones #2.

   This is a comic that is violent and often vulgar (which is fine in a comic for adults), but instead of the usual microscopic notice, this has, in large letters: "Parental Advisory! Not for kids!" Good on ya, Marvel.

   The story inside gives us some more details on the former superhero turned Private Investigator (and Mom).

   She's confronted by an angry Luke Cage, who has a simple question: "Where's my daughter?"

   Luke and Jessica have a baby girl, but she is hidden away for reasons unknown. Jessica refuses to say where, and we only get some brief hints about why

   Luke, never known for having much patience, doesn't take the news well.

   At the same time, an event shakes up Jessica's latest case - and a strange villain appears (sort of).

   So there's a lot going on here, and writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos keep the story ripping along at top speed, serving up action one moment and heartbreak the next, keeping you riveted to the spot.

   It's truly sad to see Jessica and Luke struggling with their relationship - they have been one of (if not the only) "real" relationships in comics, funny and loving and sexy and spirited, and it would be a shame to lose that.

   While we wait to see the outcome, there's a cracking good story unfolding - we just hope it doesn't end by breaking our hearts.

Grade: A-


New Comics Day

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

- Archie #14 - Cheryl is stirring up trouble!

- Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye #2 - Where did the eye come from? Ick!

- Doctor Strange #14 - My dinner with Stephen.

- Jessica Jones #2 - Where is her baby?

- Justice League #9 - Who is hacking Green Lantern's ring?

   And I received review copies of:

- Assassins Creed Locus #3 

- Assassins Creed Templars #7

 - Britannia #3 

- Dark Souls Winter Spite #1 

- Doctor Who 12th Year Two #11

- Doctor Who Supremacy of the Cybermen #5

- Harbinger Renegade #1

- Rivers of London Black Mould #2

- Sherlock Study in Pink #6 

   Whew! And that's it!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Mother Panic #1

   This is the fourth (and final, for now) of the "Young Animal" line of comics from DC Comics.

   And Mother Panic is certainly a strange one.

   It's set in Gotham City, and (despite its adults-only style) it actually features the Batman. Briefly.

   But the focus is on a young woman, Violet Paige, who suffered the loss of her parents when she was young: her mother to Alzheimer's and her father in a hunting accident.

   Young Violet was sent to a boarding school where she picked up some interesting skills - and when she reappeared, it was as a spoiled society girl - one equally rude and riotous.

   Sound familiar?

   It's all to disguise her true purpose as the white-clad Mother Panic - but don't be too sure that she's acting on the side of angels.

   Her first appearance is a comic book tradition - defending a victim from attacking hoods in an alley. But the results of the fight don't follow the usual tropes.

   The whole book is a bit off-kilter, with odd imagery and even odder characters, and plot points that don't quite add up.

   It's an interesting start for writer Jody Houser and illlustrator Tommy Lee Edwards, who are also listed as the creators of the concept, along with Gerard Way.

   The issue is a big question mark, setting up numerous mysteries to be solved.

   It's definintely just for adults, but for those mature enough to handle some violence and adult language, it's very, very good!

Grade: A-


Monday, November 14, 2016

The Avengers #1.1

   When The Avengers shocked the world, I was there.

   Which is to say, when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby changed the lineup of the team just over a year after its creation, I was reading along - and I was shocked.

   Captain America stayed on, but the rest of the team - Iron Man, Thor, Giant-Man and the Wasp - all stepped away to deal with issues in their own titles (Thor wasn't even there to say goodbye - he was off facing the Trial of the Gods). The Hulk had quit in the second issue!

   But the departing members were kind enough to recruit three new members to take their place: Hawkeye (the archer), Quicksilver (the speedster) and the Scarlet Witch (with her hex power)!

   Needless to say, it was a steep de-powering of the team - but that's one of the things that made it fun, as they had to learn to work together to overcome the odds.

   To be honest, I'm not sure why Stan and Jack did this. The accepted notion is that maintaining the continuity was too much of a headache, but that seems doubtful - didn't Cap have his own adventures in Tales of Suspense, just like Iron Man?

   My guess is they just wanted to give the title a fresh look and try to model it more on the highly successful Fantastic Four (the steady leader, the hothead, the beautiful woman, and the smart aleck) - and allow more opportunities for romance and character development. 

   All of which is a long way around to talking about this new series focusing on that era. It's written by Mark Waid and drawn by Barry Kitson and Mark Farmer, so you know it's going to be great - and they deliver, with a look behind the scenes of the change of the guard - and the surprising result of their first battle.

   It all fits snugly into Marvel's continuity, and for long-time fans, it's a wonderful trip down memory lane. (Be sure to try the letters page - it's tasty!)

   All I can say is: more, please!

Grade: A



Sunday, November 13, 2016

An Apology and an Update

   Sorry for the long silence, gentle readers - your pal Chuck is fine, but suffering the double whammy of a seriously crashed computer and an overwhelming work load out there in the real world.

   The worst in now in the past, so I hope to be back up to speed sometime tomorrow. I appreciate your patience during our (hopefully brief) outage.

   Be back soon!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

New Comics Day

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

- Avengers #1.1 - Back to the beginning!

- All Star Batman #4 - Fight for your life!

- Betty & Veronica #2 - The title should replace the "&" with a "vs."

- Captain America Steve Rogers #7 - Still Hydra.

- Daredevil #13 - Deadly artwork

- Doom Patrol #3 - Things get weirder.

- Flash #10 - Attaked by The Shade!

- Invincible Iron Man #1 - A new Iron Man in town.

- Mother Panic #1 - A twisty new hero.

- All New X-Men #15 - When demons attack!

   And I received review copies of:

- A&A #9 

- Aspen Universe Revelations #4

- Assassins Creed Awakening #1

- Black #2

- Chimera Brigade #2

- Dark Souls Winters Spite #1

- The Forevers #2

- The Mummy #1

- Triggerman #2

- Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #13

   And that's it!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Death of X #3 (of 4)

   The Death of X series continues to rumble along, trying to give the Inhumans and the X-Men (and mutants in general) reasons to go to war with each other.

   It had mostly achieved that with its basic concept - that the Terrigen Mist released by the Inhumans to trigger (and reveal) other members of their race across the face of the Earth was having unpredictable (and often deadly) effects on mutants.

   Instead of taking that and running with it, the creative team has tried to pile more misunderstandings on it, as a team of mutants is accidentally affected by a rescue effort.

   But a new player has entered the game - one not known for moderation or peace-making.

   This isn't a bad series - the art is strong and the story is building toward - something - but it feels like this series is just moving pieces into place to set up the next story (no doubt all-out war between the races) which will be the next big "event."

Grade: B+


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Unworthy Thor #1

   It's been a shame that the real Thor (the one who is Odin's son) has been treated so badly.

   More than two years ago the real Nick Fury (who's also been treated badly) whispered something to Thor that made him suddenly realize that he was now The Unworthy Thor - and no longer able to wield Mjolnir.

    We still have no inkling about what Fury said - but this issue finds Thor (who now has a mechanical left arm, replacing the one that was chopped off) looking for another hammer to wield.

   Somehow a different mystic hammer survived the end of the Secret Wars mini-series, and Thor hopes it will replace his former hammer - but first he must fight his was through impossible odds.

   The art by Olivier Coipel is wonderful, of course - but the story doesn't seem to include the Thor that I remember. That character was a hero, an admirable character who was both kind and thoughtful.

   This Thor is a broken spirit, more focused on fighting and drinking than helping others or defending the weak.

   Is he more edgy, darker, more intense? I guess - but that doesn't make me a fan.

Grade: B


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Avengers #1

   It's something of a relief, getting the title of this book back to The Avengers after a year of the All New, All Different Avengers.

   The team has gone through a change in the lineup, as (post Civil War II) the three young members - Ms. Marvel, Nova and Spider-Man (Miles Morales) - have split to form the Champions.

   With Iron Man also out of the picture (for mysterious reasons so far), the team has to do some recruiting, and brings in some big names, including the real Spider-Man, the new Wasp and the same old Hercules.

   They get a great opponent right out of the box, as Kang the Conqueror turns up, looking for information the Vision is hiding.

   Kang's a terrific villain, with some quirky new features giving him a twist this time around.

   As a few Avengers scribes have realized (including Steve Englehart, Roger Stern, Kurt Busiek and Brian Michael Bendis), Kang is a terrific opponent because you can have a helluva knock-dowm, drag-out fight with him, defeat him, and he can crawl away, heal his wounds, make new plans - and then attack you again just moments after your last fight.

   It's a handy thing, being a master of time. As in this issue, written by Mark Waid, Kang makes full use of his advantage, attacking the team in a way that they're defenseless to stop.

   I like Mike del Mundo's artwork, but I'm not sure this is the right book for him. His painted stylings are almost too surreal in places - characters are distorted, layouts can be difficult to follow, and there are odd choice here. Why is Hercules using a gun? Why is the Wasp riding Redwing?

   I'm so easily confused.

   Still, nice to see a classic version of the team back in action - and you have to love that Alex Ross cover.

Grade: B+


New Comics Day

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

- Avengers #1 - A new team, an old foe!

- Cerebus in Hell? - Is anyone surprised?

- Champions #2 - Let's go camping!

- Death of Hawkman #2 - How tough is Hawkman?

- Death of X #3 - Things escalate.

- Justice League #8 - Virus at work!

- Unworthy Thor #1 - What has the real Thor been up to?

   And I received review copies of:

- Faith #5

- Jade Street Protection Services #2

   And that's it!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Classic Comics - The Atom #8

   One of the knocks on the Silver Age version of The Atom was that he didn't have much of a rogue's gallery.

   And that's a fair cop - far too many of his adventures were either against plainclothes crooks with super science weapons or Time Travel action (courtesy of the Time Pool).

   In fact, the only villain I can name offhand who exclusively fought the Atom was Chronos (and a strong villain he was).

   But that doesn't mean all his other foes were pushovers. Perhaps his biggest challenge early in his career was Dr. Light, the villain who almost destroyed the Justice League through his mastery of light-based weapons.

   So what chance does the smallest member of the League have - especially when his size-changing equipment has been disabled?

   Ah, but that's the fun of the hero - he always found a way (however painful) to escape deathtraps and outwit the bad guys.

   As always, writer Gardner Fox provides a sharp, clever script, and the amazing art is by the team of Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson. They skillfully manage to convey the otherworldly adventures of the Atom, constantly placing him in situations where you get a sense of his stature.

   Continuity fans will also enjoy the brief crossover with the Justice League - one that actually spilled over in a small way into an issue of the JLA (and such things were extremely rare at DC Comics in 1963).

   Oh, there's a backup story in that issue, too. It provides a mystery for the Atom to solve, one that involves a plainclothes villain with a super science weapon.

   You can't win them all!

Grade: A