Thursday, April 28, 2016

Batman: Dark Knight III: The Master Race #4

   I am really enjoying this series.

   It's not the same thematically as the original Dark Knight Returns book - and it's very different from the sequel.

   Instead, Dark Knight III: The Master Race stands on its own, using the same version of the characters - but focusing on telling a cracking good tale.

   It is, of course, on the grim and gritty side. It tells the story of the ultimate threat facing Earth - an army of Kryptonians in the form of religious fanatics who attack the Earth, bent on death and destruction.

   They're focusing on the remaining superheroes who might be a threat, so they first take on a badly outnumbered and outgunned Superman - and then set their targets on Batman.

   The Dark Knight has weapons of his own, of course, and he starts moving the pieces into place in order to... what? Ah, that's what we want to find out.

   As always, terrific work by writers Brian Azzarello and Frank Miller, and equally outstanding art by Andy Kubert and Klaus Janson, with Miller doing the art on the Mini-comic included (and how I love that concept)!

   I approached this series with trepidation, but they've won me over. They're telling a big story about the (potential) final stand for Earth's greatest heroes - and the Earth itself.

   It aims high, and knocks it out of the park!

Grade: A

--------------------

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Classic Comics - Punisher War Zone #1


   Ah, for the good old days of gimmicky covers! This issue of the new Punisher War Zone series featured thick paper with a cutout over his left shoulder (not visible in this image) with his skull-head logo peeking through.

   This was 1992, when the Punisher was at the peak of his bad boy / kill all the bad guys / take no prisoners popularity.

   He was a hot enough property to spin off into extra titles (thankfully, there were always more murderous hoodlums who needed exterminating) - and this was the best of the bunch.

   That's because they gave the title the perfect writer for Frank Castle's tough, uncompromising adventures: Chuck Dixon, one of the industry's best (if not THE best) at writing the stories of a driven ex-military man who wages a never-ending war on criminals.

   This issue immediately set the tone, starting with a brutal, bullet-riddled action sequence. It quickly establishes the supporting cast of one - a tech expert named Microchip, who shares Castle's experiences with the forces of evil - an encounter that took the life of his son.

   It also throws the Punisher into a risky effort to get on the inside of a local mob - the better to chop it down to size.

   The art is just as raw and hard-hitting as the script, as created by John Romita, Jr. and Klaus Janson. Both were really hitting their stride as artists, and the results are stunning and memorable.

   Not all the Punisher's adventures stand the test of time. This story stands out from the crowd and should be a primer on "how to write the Punisher."

   Highly recommended!

Grade: A

-----------------------

New Comics Day

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

- Batman #51 - Protecting Gotham.

- Batman: Dark Knight: The Master Race #4 - Father vs. daughter.

- Daredevil #6 - Elektra's in town.

- Doctor Strange #7 - The magic is dying.

- Doctor Strange: Last Days of Magic #1 - The war rages around the world.

- Justice League #49 - The end of the Darkseid War is near.

- Patsy Walker Hellcat #5 - Patsy and Hedy - together again!

- Saga #36 - Reunion!

- Star Wars #18 - To the rescue!

- Wynonna Earp #3 - Weirdness in Wayne County!

   And that's it! 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Guest Review: Relic & Ego

   Welcome back to the Guest Review chair our friend Glen Davis, with a review of a new adventure series:

   This is another offering from Empire Comics Press. It is something like a cross between Tomb Raider and the Golden Age feature SuperMind and Son.

   A father and daughter duo of an egotistical professor and an adventurer (with some sort of magical cloak she calls The Relic) go to an island that only appears occasionally on our world. 

   Arriving during a gale storm, they find a nearly impenetrable jungle, reptile men, giant snakes, and more gigantic birds, before finding a magical stone that the usual secret organization covets. 

   Fairly good. Lots of tension between the two principles, as well as the dangers they face.  

   The art is good for most of the issue, but really breaks down during a mountain climbing sequence. Not a deal breaker, but definitely noticeable. 

   The dialogue is pretty good, giving us a sense of the characters as well as moving the plot forward.  

   The plot is pretty simple, but that's usually a good idea for a first issue.  

   Give it a look-see.


Grade: B

-------------------

Monday, April 25, 2016

Superman: The Coming of the Supermen #3

   OK, I think I've figured out this series.

   Legendary writer / artist Neal Adams is the creative force behind Superman: The Coming of the Supermen.

   The series (as near as I can tell) focuses on three men who arrive on Earth in a spaceship. They're all wearing Superman costumes and each has his powers.

   Almost immediately, the evil forces of Apokolips attack, led by Kalibak. Their purpose is difficult to figure - they just seem to be there to give the Supermen (and Superman) something to punch.

   In this issue, Superman and Lois Lane travel to the home of the Supermen (whose origin apparently involves an event we weren't witness to) and fight the bad guys some more.

   Like last issue, the issue is loaded with strange dialogue, oddly-behaving characters, events that don't make a lot of sense, quite a bit of yelling and lots of fighting.

   But I think I get it. I think Adams is doing his best to channel Jack Kirby's style and dialogue - though the art is all Adams (with Buzz and Josh Adams assisting on inks). So you get crazy, over-the-top-and-then-some action (the full page splash of the attack on New Krypton feels like a Kirby creation). And the dialogue also feels like the unique, oddly-paced but somehow endearing style Kirby used.

   I'm still not sold on the series - it has some really odd moments (the scene with Luthor and Darkseid defies description), but at least it's trying to give us a big, booming tale - so it deserves some credit there.

   But it is one odd comic.

Grade: B

-----------------

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Uncanny Inhumans #7

   I really liked the first story arc in the Uncanny Inhumans series, but the second story has been bit of a stumble - though not a complete mess.

   It's centered around a nightclub called The Quiet Room, which is apparently Black Bolt's "home away from home." It's a bit silly, but I'll allow it - after all, even Black Bolt can have a hobby.

   It's a safe place for heroes, villains and Inhumans to gather and mingle - but almost immediately all hell breaks loose.

   Two massive sub-humans get into a fight (sort of a two-man barroom brawl). The Leader and The Thinker get into a competition that may destroy the club - and most of the city. And a customer has a valuable item stolen at the club - luckily, there are Inhumans handy who should be able to track it down and recover it.

   That all leads to some entertaining action sequences, a particularly nasty villain, and an odd turn to a business meeting.

   It's a bit of a crazy quilt, and a little too jumbled to come together into a cohesive whole. It's not bad, it only suffers in comparison to the previous story.

Grade: B

---------------------

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Guest Review: Triad #1

   Back for another visit to our Guest Interview slot, Glen Davis is here with a look at a comic you may have missed:

   A local comic book shop has its own publishing imprint. I acquired some. I figured I'd try to support this (Alternative? Independent?) especially small comic book company with a review.

   From Empire's Comic Vault Press, (www.ECVPress.com) comes this superhero book, Triad.

   Part of what makes this comic different than most is that it is set in modern Greece. The three scions of a crime lord pool their talents toward stopping the machinations of their father, and the organization known as K.A.R.M.A

   It isn't bad. The three have moderate super powers that become stronger the closer they are to one another. The issue concerns the neophyte heroes trying to get possession of a McGuffin device, and the two super powered thugs, Bengal and Jolt, who try to stop them.

   On the whole, I'd call it a good effort. The art breaks down here and there, the dialogue is occasionally a little clunky, but there's a lot of action, and the creators take pains to make sure new readers can figure out who is who and what is happening. 

   Better than a lot of mainstream comics I've read lately.


Grade: B- 

-----------------------

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Flash #50

   For the first time in a long time, I can say this about an issue of The Flash: I liked it.

   Mostly.

   For far too long the stories have just been a mishmash of events, challenges and disasters, and the Flash rarely wins a fight or succeeds as a hero.

   And this issue looked like more of the same, as it starts with the Flash captured (by the Rogues, no less) and in police custody. But when a disaster strikes the prison, it's up to the Flash to save the policemen who have been chasing him - and it's great to see the hero acting like a hero, as he races around and saves lives, even if it costs him his freedom.

   But this issue has a strike or two against it, because we never learn the identity of the mystery mastermind who is behind recent events - and the story doesn't conclude in this issue.

   Still, the art is very good, and it's good to see Barry Allen acting like a superhero. For a change.

Grade: A-

----------------------