Thursday, June 15, 2017

Free Comic Book Day Review Part Two


Free Comic Book Day Review Part Two

I have been lackadaisical in my reviews lately and did not do a Free Comic Book Day overview this year. Rather than do one at this late date, I'm just going to list two stores with each batch of Free Comic Book Day comic reviews. Please note that the comics reviewed did not necessarily come from the shop listed in this review, nor does the shop endorse these reviews.

Not all of the comics that I'll be reviewing over the three parts of my Free Comic Book Day reviews will be FCBD editions. Some are singles that I paid for on FCBD while others were offered for free as part of the FCBD festivities. 


My hatchlings.


In part two of three of my overview and review of this year's FCBD festivities, I'll go over the next two stores that we hit on our journey across two counties as well as review for another eight comic books.



Warp 9 Comics in Clawson, MI had a huge line wrapped around the building even though they had been open an hour by the time that we arrived. They once again offered their incredible ten free comics per person. There was a guy in a Spider-Man costume who actually knew some character history. He was friendly and my kids loved him. I told him that he hasn't gained a pound since I met him (along with the Hulk and Firestar) at Wonderland Mall in Livonia, MI in October of 1983.






Free Comic Book Day 2017- Secret Empire #1 (Marvel, cover date, July, 2017)

My son is ten and thinks that all of these comics are great, whereas my vibe on Secret Empire is that it is lame. Maybe I am an old dinosaur, or maybe this just plain ol' sucks. You can't even tell what this so-called event is supposed to even be about judging by this preview alone. The sneak preview of Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man is good and I can see me picking it up...for free from my local library. Everything is slick and professional but I can't buy everything. Lord knows I've tried.



Wonder Woman #1: Free Comic Book Day 2017 Special Edition (DC, cover date May, 2017)

Christ on a stick, how many times is DC going to retell and reinterpret Wonder Woman's origin??? Each time there are elements which contradict all previous versions. This time out it also flies in the face of the origin that civilians who only know the new movie continuity would understand to be true. Not syncing up your stuff across all platforms seems inefficient as well as a wasted opportunity.

This wasn't a bad read by any stretch, but endless reboots and retellings only muddies the water. This reprints #2 of the 2016 DC Universe Rebirth relaunch of the title. As a comic it reads well enough, but the point of these FCBD titles is to lure in new readers. On that count it might not work.



Free Comic Book Day 2017: All-New Guardians Of The Galaxy #1 (Marvel, cover date, July, 2017)

Not a huge GOTG fan but this was fun and reads close enough to the characters as the mainstream moviegoers and kids know and love them. It's not for me but it does what it's supposed to do. My son loved it.

And then the train goes right off of the rails and into the ravine with the wretched Brian Michael Bendis' Defenders, which has been rebooted for the thousandth time. It's your usual steaming pile of Bendis, and, like the rest of his work, stinks to high heaven. Go away, Bendis. Nobody likes you and you couldn't write a coherent superhero comic book to save your life.



Steam Wars: Strike Leader FCBD Edition (Antarctic Press, cover date April, 2017)

Next we have this...this...I don't know what this even supposed to be. Loving homage to Star Wars filtered through steam punk and WWII sensibilities? Calculated but poorly executed “IP” done in hopes to get “optioned”? Derivative, inbred drivel done only to kill trees and hopefully make some money? I suspect it's a bit of all three. The only purpose this comic serves is a recycle bin liner or to be used to prop up comics that are actually good in your boxes, protecting the ones by the finger holes in your boxes by taking the brunt of the wear.



The fourth out of the five shops that I hit this year on FCBD was Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, MI. I got there a bit late, as we stopped off for lunch with friends and it wound up taking a while. Green Brain has now expanded across the entire store. Dan and Katie are like the Captain and Tennille of comic shop owners, so stop in and say hi.



FCBD 2017 Catalyst Prime: The Event (Lion Forge, cover date, 2017)

This was well done on all levels (writing, art, and color) and has a solid concept that is intriguing enough. It is certainly worth a read.



Attack On Titan (Kodansha Comics, cover date, 2017)

I'm not the world's biggest Manga fan, but this was good stuff with an interesting message. It's probably worth a read if your library has it or if you are into Manga.



Free Comic Book Day 2017: The Looking Glass Wars- Crossfire (Automatic Pictures, 2017)

Wow. There are comic companies who over promote, and then there's this one. So modest are the publishers of this comic that not only is there no indicia indicating copyright or cover date, there is no name of the publisher found anywhere in the entire comic book. It wasn't very good, so maybe the publisher didn't want to sign it's name to it.



Malika- Warrior Queen: Chapter One (Youne3k Studios, cover date, 2017)


Polished and professional stuff. Production values on par with any of the larger publishers. I can see school age kids buying graphic novels of this at those Scholastic Book Fairs if they could get this book in front of them. It's good, but it's not my cup of tea. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Review- Free Comic Book Day Review Part One

Free Comic Book Day Review Part One

I have been lackadaisical in my reviews lately and did not do a Free Comic Book Day overview this year. Rather than do one at this late date, I'm just going to list two stores with each batch of Free Comic Book Day comic reviews. Please note that the comics reviewed here did not necessarily come from the shop listed in this review, nor does the shop endorse these reviews.

Not all of the comics that I'll be reviewing over the three parts of my Free Comic Book Day reviews will be FCBD editions. Some are singles that I paid for on FCBD while others were offered for free as part of the FCBD festivities.



The first shop that I hit this year was Detroit Comics in Ferndale, MI. Detroit Comics has recently celebrated ten years in business. Brian and crew are a friendly bunch so stop in and hello.



Resurrxion Free Spotlight #1 (Marvel, cover date May, 2017)

This is a fat 52 pager with previews of 11 different X-Men titles which have been relaunched as part of Marvel's supposedly new fan friendly line. Excuse me, eleven titles is new fan friendly? Come on Marvel. This is ridiculous. Some of these ideas were interesting in a way, but eleven titles? What kid can afford this? Hell, what adult can afford eleven titles for one line of comics? Ridiculous.




Secret Empire Free Previews Spotlight #1 (Marvel, cover date June, 2017)

I have come to the conclusion that I have outgrown modern Marvel Comics. My son really enjoys whatever new comics he reads by them. Maybe I am too old and jaded and have seen it all too many times before. Any way you slice it, the writing and artwork no longer resonate with me so I won't be buying them. There is nothing in this comic that makes me want to throw money at it. I will stick with old Marvel Comics and leave the new Marvel Age of Comics to my son.



Miserable Americans #4 (Independently published by artist Evan Derian, copyright 2016)

Coming in at issue 4 of a series is like walking in late to a movie. Locally produced and published here in Detroit, Miserable Americans is a series about the clones of President John F. Kennedy and President Abraham Lincoln who are on the run from some secret organization that is trying to kill them for reasons that are as yet unknown. It was intelligently written (two or three typos aside) and there is so much story and characterization crammed into this issue that I am intrigued enough to read more.



2000 AD Free Comic Book Day Prog 2017 (2000 AD, cover date 2017)

2000 AD is celebrating it's fortieth anniversary this year, which is kind of crazy when you think about it. This year's FCDB sampler starts out with a story by a character who goes all the way back to the beginning of the series, debuting in #2. Judge Dredd leads the charge in a story that is a sequel to one of the stories that I've recently read in one of The Complete Case Files phonebooks. Blackblood is one of those early '90s British feeling comics, heavy on the robotics and light on humor. Hope has the potential to be an interesting read. Judge Anderson doesn't interest me at all, while Dreams Of Deadworld shows what happens in Judge Death's dimension, where life is a crime and the sentence is death. This is an interesting strip that I would be willing to read more of.




The second shop that we hit this year was Time Travelers in Berkley, MI. Time Travelers is a well stocked shop, although I swear some of those toys have been in those glass cases since the first time I walked in there roughly 25 years ago. They have an ample selection of everything: comics, toys from all eras, video games, cards, and more.



The Incal: Free Comic Book Day (Humanoids, cover date 2017)

Humanoids (the US branch of Les Humanoides Associes) offers English language translations of European comics. The first 26 pages of the book, the first published in the Jodoverse line of Humanoids books, are presented in this FCBD edition. I read and loved Metabarons as well as Technopriests, but this left me cold. It's interesting in a “this is how it all began” sort of way but that's about it. Your mileage, as always, may vary.



Star Trek: The Next Generation- Mirror Broken #0 (IDW, cover date May, 2017)

In the original Star Trek television series they had that parallel universe where everything was the opposite of ours. Spock was evil, and since goatees are evil, evil Spock had one. So on and so forth. The Next Generation may or may not have had such an episode as well. I haven't watched an episode since it originally aired in the '80s.

This was an absolutely fantastic read. The writing and artwork are flawless and it reads and feels like an episode of the television series.



Afterlife With Archie- Halloween ComicFest Edition #1 (Archie, cover date 2014)

I borrowed the first trade from the library and found it to be unreadable. I could barely make it through an issue. This version is printed in “black and white” (really grayscale and black) and I enjoyed it well enough to want to read more...just not in color.



Doctor Who: Free Comic Book Day 2017 #1 (Titan, cover date June, 2017)


I know next to nothing about Doctor Who but enjoyed this comic. It's slick and polished stuff. I can't say how well it relates to the source material, nor do I care. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Review- THE JOE KUBERT ARCHIVES VOL. 1: WEIRD HORRORS & DARING ADVENTURES



THE JOE KUBERT ARCHIVES VOL. 1: WEIRD HORRORS & DARING ADVENTURES (Fantagraphics, First Printing, 2012; Hardcover)

Collects selections from Abbott and Costello Comics #10, All-New Comics #10, Black Cat #1, 2, Boy Comics #110, The Challenger #2, 3, Cow Puncher Comics #2, Crime Does Not Pay #142, 143, Eerie #3, 7, 9, Green Hornet Comics #30, The Hawk #2, Hollywood Confessions #2, Jesse James #6, Meet Miss Pepper #5, Parole Breakers #2, Planet Comics #32, Police Lineup Vol. 1 #3, Son of Sinbad #1, Strange Terrors #4, 5, Strange Worlds #8, 18, Three Stooges #1, Weird Horrors #8, Weird Thrillers #4, Whack #2, and Witchcraft #1 (cover dates September, 1944- April, 1955)

Writers: Robert Bernstein, George Vincent, Charles Biro, and other unidentified writers

Artists: Joe Kubert with penciling by Carmine Infantino (Strange Worlds #18 and Jesse James #6), Bob Bean (Meet Miss Pepper #5), and inking by Norman Mauer (Whack #2)



Joe Kubert is as prolific as any of the comic book journeyman of his era. While he is most famous for his Silver Age DC work (Hawkman, etc.), his Pre-Code work for all of the various publishing houses here is interesting as well. The quality of the writing is all over the place, which is common for the era, but his artwork is consistently good. I am unsure if Steve Ditko ever claimed Joe Kubert as an influence, but I can spot many similarities in the ways that they draw the everyman in the crowd.



Pre-Code Horror comics all kind of feel the same after a while, and the ones collected here are no exception. I'm a big fan of the genre so I love them, but I can understand the criticism that some folks have about them all running together into a blur. The Widow's Lover (Weird Thrillers #4) is a cut above the rest, no pun intended.



Some of the genres are of little interest to me. I find most Western comics and War comics to be a chore to read, and some of these old Science Fiction comics can be a bit too silly. I love old Crime comics. I dislike Humor comics, as they are often very unfunny if you aren't aware of the context and reference points. You would have to approach them from a scholarly standpoint. They almost require annotations.

The Son Of Sinbad material was my favorite in the entire book. As hard as it may be to imagine today, there was once a world of no cable television, where three major networks and a handful of UHF channels showing reruns dominated the airwaves. In this world the ABC Sunday night movies were a big deal, and I loved the Sinbad ones in the '70s. I would be all over a collection of Sinbad comics, but nobody aside from print-on-demand companies like Gwandanaland Comics would even consider it.



This was a good but uneven read. One can only assume that there will not be a second volume in this series, as this book is already five years old and a follow up was never solicited. Oh well. I'm over these artist-centric collections anyways.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This book is wider than a Marvel Masterwork, DC, or Dark Horse Archive.
Linework and Color restoration: High resolution scans with some tinkering. Some line bleed was fixed and some solids were done, which looks jarring when the rest of the panel has the so-called Ben Day dots. All or nothing, folks. I can tolerate full blown restoration and I can tolerate raw scans, but the hybrid approach doesn't work for my money.
Paper stock: Bright white uncoated stock.
Binding: Sewn binding. Lays flat. The book block has room to flex within the casing.
Hardback cover notes: Matte casewrap. No dustjacket. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Review- SWAMP THING VOL. 7: SEASON'S END




SWAMP THING VOL. 7: SEASON'S END (DC, First Printing, 2016; Softcover)

Collects Swamp Thing #35-40, Swamp Thing Annual #3, and Swamp Thing: Futures End #1 (cover dates November, 2014- May, 2015)

Writer: Charles Soule

Artists: Jesus Saiz, Javier Pina, Ryan Browne, David Bullock, Carmen Carnero, and Yanick Pacquette

Colorists: Matt Hollingsworth, June Chung, Nathan Fairbarn, Jose Villarrubia, and Matthew Wilson



This is the end of the road for The New 52 incarnation of the Swamp Thing. While bits and pieces of this run have flown in the face of the continuity established before, this is by and large faithful to the original Len Wein run filtered through Alan Moore's run.

Alan Moore introduced the concept of the Swamp Thing as part the avatar of The Green. Over the course of this series we have been introduced to The Red (the animal kingdom), The Rot (decay), and The Grey (mushrooms and fungi). Now we meet the kingdom of The Machine, initially comprised of A Calculus, B Calculus, C Calculus, and their apparent leader among supposed equals, Omega Calculus.

SPOILERS from here on out. You have been warned!

The Machine decide that they should acquire an avatar after being soundly defeated by the Swamp Thing. The Machine are constantly learning and evolving, so they choose Lady Weeds to become their avatar. The Machine renames her the even more ridiculously named Machine Queen, and The Calculus becomes the Rithm. The Rithm seeks to manage all life on Earth in order to make it run more efficiently. So all of the various kingdoms form alliances and wage war against one another. I won't go into the outcome, as even spoiler tags won't make me ruin the whole thing for you.

This has been an enjoyable series but I am not picking up the Rebirth Swamp Thing series. I love Len Wein's writing and would like to see what he has cooked up all of these years later but I just can't get into Kelley Jones' artwork. I am content to walk away from the character for now. The ending of this series could be read as an end of the character...just like Alan Moore's run.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.

The OCD zone-
Paper stock: Glossy coated stock.
Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.
Cardstock cover notes: Thick laminated cardstock.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Review- DARK HORSE NUMBER ONES 2017



DARK HORSE NUMBER ONES 2017 (Dark Horse, First Printing, 2017; Softcover)

Collects The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite #1, Lady Killer #1, Black Hammer #1, Dept. H #1, Briggs Land #1, Bounty #1, Harrow County #1, and Hellboy In Hell #1 (cover dates September, 2007- August, 2016)

Writers: Gerard Way, Joelle Jones, Jamie S. Rich, Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, Brian Wood, Kurtis Wiebe, Cullen Bunn, and Mike Mignola

Artists: Gabriel BA, Joelle Jones, Dean Ormston, Matt Kindt, Mack Chater, Mindy Lee, and Tyler Crook

Colorists: Dave Stewart, Laura Allred, Sharlene Kindt, Lee Loughridge, Leonardo Olea, and Andy Cotnam



I am a sucker for these value priced sampler trades. While I am admittedly old-fashioned in terms of my comic book tastes, I also like to see what's shaking from time to time. This book features eight first issues for six bucks. Even the tightest tightwad cannot resist such an entertainment bargain.

Gerard Way's The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite #1 is far too self important and self aware to be taken seriously. It is so slavish to the writing styles of Alan Moore and Grant Morrison that it's like a parody. Dry, dull, and sterile, it's as brickwalled and overproduced as you'd expect from the My Chemical Romance guy.

Lady Killer is a breath of fresh air, big on gore and big on style. It's a lot of fun because it's over the top without taking itself too seriously. Joelle Jones and Laura Allred are a formidable art team. I'm inclined to pick this series up.



Black Hammer is an interesting concept, ditto Dept. H. I would borrow the latter from the library for sure. Briggs Land smacks of “IP”. It seems to be a comic only so that the creators can sell off movie or television rights. Bounty is godawful in every way, shape, and form. The best thing that you could do with that comic is recycle it. I've read Harrow County #1 before, and it is entertaining. There is a lot of positive buzz around this series, and it's not unwarranted.

Recycle it! 


Hellboy In Hell...I've never gotten Hellboy, and the only work by Mike Mignola that I've enjoyed were his 1980s runs on Rocket Raccoon and Alpha Flight. Hellboy and Deadpool are two enduring popular characters that I have never gotten, and I am okay with that.

All in all, this is a real mixed bag read, and that's a good thing. Not everything has to be for everyone, and just because I dislike something doesn't mean that you will too. If anything, there's no reason for you not to grab this bargain priced book and see what's shaking for yourself.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 2.75 out of 5.

The OCD zone-
Paper stock: Semi-glossy coated stock, which is fine for modern computer coloring.
Binding: Sewn binding.
Cardstock cover notes: Nice thick lamination. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Review- JOHN CARPENTER'S TALES FOR A HALLOWEEN NIGHT VOL. 2



JOHN CARPENTER'S TALES FOR A HALLOWEEN NIGHT VOL. 2 (Storm King, First Printing, 2016; Softcover)

Original Graphic Novel.

Writers: Steven Hoveke, John Carpenter, Deirdre Brooks, Mike Sizemore, David J. Schow, Jimmy Palmiotti, Renae Deliz, James Ninness, Duane Swierczynki, Amanda Diebert, Kealan Patrick Burke, Sandy King, and Federico De Luca

Artists: Jon Bogdanove, Dennis Calero, Daniel Leister, David Kennedy, Darick Robertson, Richard P. Clark, Joel Seguin, Ray Dillon, Axur Aneas, Trevor Denham, Cat Staggs, Jaime Carillo, and Federico De Luca

Colorists: Jeff Balke, Diego Rodriguez, Paul Mounts, Ben Glibert, and Kinsun Loh



Volume 2 of this anthology Horror series offers twice as many stories as the first volume. Like Volume 1, this book starts out with a John Carpenter penned story, this time The Traveler's Tale. It treads familiar ground but it works on all levels. All of the writers seem to channel Carpenter's style, which is fine by me.

Carn-Evil Max And The Traveling Beauty Show doesn't work as far as I'm concerned. It's the weak link in the book. The set up isn't firmly established and the Twilight Zone style riff for the ending falls flat. Patterns and The Basement are both great stories with solid artwork. Mr. Goodnight takes the cake. Jaime Carillo and colorist Kinsun Loh knocked that one out of the park.

The series host, the Groundscreeper, remains a series highlight. Please refer to my review for Volume 1 for more thoughts on him. This was enjoyable enough to make want to pick up the forthcoming third volume this Halloween. You'll have to look to find this book but it's worth it.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.

The OCD zone-
Paper stock: Thick coated stock with a slight sheen.
Binding: Sewn binding in a softcover.
Cardstock cover notes: The majority of the cover has a matte finish with select spot varnish. The logo is embossed, a welcome touch which adds some class to the proceedings. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Review- JOHN CARPENTER'S TALES FOR A HALLOWEEN NIGHT VOL. 1



JOHN CARPENTER'S TALES FOR A HALLOWEEN NIGHT VOL. 1 (Storm King, First Printing, 2015; Softcover)

Original Graphic Novel.

Writers: Steven Hoveke, John Carpenter, Trent Olsen, David J. Schow, James Ninness, Duane Swierczynki, and Sandy King

Artists: Jon Bogdanove, Federico De Luca, Tone Rodriguez, Darick Robertson, Richard P. Clark, Brett Simmons, and Leonardo Manco with cover art by Tim Bradstreet

Colorists: Ray Dillon, Sian Mandrake, Diego Rodriguez, Ben Glibert, and Mariana Sanzone



EC Comics had a huge impact on the children of the 1950s...children like John Carpenter. This graphic novel takes the Horror anthology found in EC titles like Tales From The Crypt, Vault Of Horror, and Haunt Of Fear and brings them up to speed with contemporary writing and artwork. Like those titles, the book has a host, the Groundscreeper. The same one page interlude Groundscreeper image, with art by Jon Bogdanove and “Ben Day” dot style coloring by Ray Dillon, introduces each story. I have to say that I wish that more comics used this nostalgic approach. It looks more “comic book”-like, only without the drawbacks of line bleed and off-register printing. The Groundscreeper page is packed with third party narrative describing each scene and then accented with his own darkly ironic humor by way of monologue.



John Carpenter pens the first story, The Ghost Maker. Some Grub is a great story with mediocre artwork by Brett Simmons. The art is too cartoony for a serious Horror story. This is just one fan's opinion, and your mileage may vary. The beauty of the Horror anthology format is that anything goes. Any writing style, any art style. Notice To Quit and Fortune Broken are both solid stories that wrap things up nicely. This was a good read and is worthy of a spot on your shelf.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This book has that sweet Chinese-made-book smell to it, although it was printed in Canada. All of the great scents without the toxic chemicals that the Chinese probably use in their sweatshop printing presses.
Paper stock: Thick coated stock with a slight sheen.
Binding: Sewn binding in a softcover.
Cardstock cover notes: The majority of the cover has a matte finish with select spot varnish. The logo is embossed, a welcome touch which adds some class to the proceedings.