Friday, September 1, 2017

Dantastic Thoughts - Captain America, Agent of Hydra - part 2

Wow, I just read Captain America is going to be a good guy again!  Imagine my surprise!  I thought he'd be a douche bag from now on but it looks like everything is going to be okay now!  Boy, is my face red!

Now that all the sarcasm is out of the way, the Captain America heel turn lasted about as long as I expected and they've hitting the reset button.  Word is there won't be any line-spanning crossovers for eighteen months, which I'll have to see to believe.

That's actually about all I have to say on the matter.  We all knew they'd hit the reset button and they did.  If people didn't buy into the stunt storylines, they'd quit doing them.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

What Jack Kirby means to me

2017 would have been Jack Kirby's centennial.  As I read through the barrage of Twitter posts covering many aspects of The King's legacy, I began to ponder his effect on my life.

My first exposure to The King, though I had no way of knowing at the time, was before I could read.  I was probably four or five, flipping through a stack of my uncle's comics, when I came across Captain America #100.  I was captivated by the images of Cap being unthawed from his icy tomb and revived and begged my grandma to read it to me.  Not only was it what hooked me on Jack Kirby, it's what hooked me on comics.

My next brush with the King, the one that really mattered, was when I became enamored with Who's Who: The Definitive History of the DC universe.  It seemed like every character I was interested in had a drawing by Jack Kirby: The New Gods, Mister Miracle, the red and yellow Sandman, the list goes on and on.  I ordered a lot of Kirby comics from Mile High in those years.  Little did I know, I was just scratching the surface.

When I was around 10, another uncle gave me one of those 1970's paperback sized Marvel reprint collections featuring Captain America.  I was surprised to see Jack Kirby's name all over everything.  I bought a few issues of Marvel Saga around the same time and began sensing Kirby's impact was even bigger than I originally suspected.  In those pre-internet days, research was a lot harder than it is now, but I eventually discovered The Challengers of the Unknown, Silver Star, Captain Victory and a lot of Kirby creations.  Not to mention the Lee and Kirby issues of The Fantastic Four.  Pure gold!

Where am I going with this?  Jack Kirby is responsible for most of the comic characters I love.  Without him, there would be no Marvel Universe and it's possible the comics industry would have never fully recovered after the crash of the 1950s.  These days, you can't get away from his influence.  Movies and merchandise depicting his characters are everywhere.

When I think of comics, I think of Jack Kirby.  With the advent of Marvel Unlimited, the Kirby-crafted cornerstones of the Marvel Universe are now available to a whole new audience.  Long live the King!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Doom Patrol, Volume 1: Brick by Brick

Doom Patrol, Volume 1: Brick by BrickDoom Patrol, Volume 1: Brick by Brick by Gerard Way
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A young EMT named Casey Brink witnesses Robotman being hit by a garbage truck and she's pulled into the maelstrom of weirdness that is... the Doom Patrol!

Here we are, another decade, another Doom Patrol book. The Doom Patrol went from being DC's version of the Fantastic Four in the 60s to being the book that put Grant Morrison on the map in the early nineties. There were a few more attempts at a Doom Patrol series after Morrison's but they weren't very memorable, although I still remember the landfill full of Robotman parts behind Doom Patrol headquarters during Keith Giffen's run.

Anyway, the weirdest super heroes in the room are back. And much like the Grant Morrison days, I was only half aware of what was going on. That being said, I did enjoy myself in a nostalgic sort of way.

Robotman is still the most normal member of the Doom Patrol and my favorite. He's like Moe of the Three Stooges, struggling to keep the group together. From being hit by a garbage truck to stomping off to go find some pants, Robotman is the hilarious grumpy uncle of the team. I also liked Negative Man getting back to something resembling the version I was familiar with, though Larry wearing Rebis' shades was a nice touch. And what the hell is up with the Chief, Niles Caulder? Hell, that alone makes me want to get the second volume.

Much like Shade, the Changing Girl, Volume 1: Earth Girl Made Easy, I felt like this book was laying the groundwork for the series, integrating Space Case with Robotman, Flex Mentallo, Negative Man, and Crazy Jane. However, I didn't find it nearly as accessible as Shade.

While it wasn't as enjoyable as I'd hoped, I'm cautiously optimistic about the future of the series. Three out of five stars.

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Shade, The Changing Girl: Earth Girl Made Easy

Shade, the Changing Girl, Volume 1: Earth Girl Made EasyShade, the Changing Girl, Volume 1: Earth Girl Made Easy by Cecil Castellucci
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Loma, an alien from Meta, tries on Rac Shade's legendary madness coat and finds herself on earth, in the body of a brain-dead girl, Megan, who was not very nice before her accident. Will she adjust to Megan's life with Metan authorities on her trail?

As someone who has most of the Steve Ditko Shade run from the 1970s AND most of the 1990s Vertigo run, I approached Shade The Changing Girl with cautious optimism. Since the Young Animal imprint seems to be the second coming of Vertigo, I figured I'd give it a shot.

I wound up digging it. Shade, The Changing Girl, takes elements from both the Ditko run and the Peter Milligan-penned Vertigo adventures. Honestly, it's more coherent that both were a lot of the time.

Shade, The Changing Girl, is a fish (or bird) out of water story as Loma steps into Megan Boyer's life and tries to experience earth life. Too bad Megan was a tremendous bitch. As Loma pieces together what happened on the night Megan drowned, she makes friends and encounters a lot of people Megan did wrong. A LOT of people. Even her parents hate her.

Without spoiling things too much, Earth Girl Made Easy laid a lot of groundwork and set the stage for future adventures. It was really cool that Mellu is on the trail of the stolen M-Vest. I have a feeling Shade and River will be visiting Meta and the Area of Madness in the future. It kind of feels like Doctor Who in a way.

Earth Girl Made Easy feels like it could easily fit into the Vertigo Shade series. As a long time Shade fan, I'm pretty excited about what's to come. Four out of five stars.

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Batman '66 Meets the Legion of Super-Heroes

Batman '66 Meets the Legion of Super-Heroes (2017-) #1Batman '66 Meets the Legion of Super-Heroes (2017-) #1 by Lee Allred
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Super-powered teenagers from 2966 come back to find the most powerful teenage superhero 1966 has to offer: Robin? Will they be disappointed? And what happens when someone steals their time bubble? Holy Grandfather Paradox, Batman!

Here we are, the comic I've been waiting months upon months to read. I've had a soft spot for the Batman TV show since watching the Batman movie one rainy Saturday afternoon as a kid, and I have fond memories of reading reprints of the Legion of Super-Heroes in Adventure Comics. Was I disappointed! Hell no!

This book, much like Bug!, feels like the Allreds had been waiting their whole lives to create it. You can feel the love for both properties on every page. It's full of Bat-puns and inside jokes about the Legion's history. When Ferro Lad, Braniac 5, Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl, Shadow Lass, and Chameleon Boy show up in 1966, they don't get quite what they expect. Robin doesn't even have super powers!

Universo and Egghead didn't do a whole lot besides provide a reason to get Batman into the future with half of the team and Robin leading the Legion in modern day Gotham. I'd say my favorite part of the book was Batman repeatedly rubbing Braniac 5 the wrong way. "Logic is science and computers. Lots and lots of computers."

It was nice to see a cameo appearance by Matter Eater Lad in the background, as promised by Michael Allred on Twitter. I didn't notice the Legion's upside down rocket-shaped clubhouse but I haven't combed through the background yet. There are a lot of other Easter Eggs (ha!) that I noticed by I don't want to spoil them.

At the end of the day, this crossover was as great as I thought it would be. Too bad it's just a one-shot. Five out of five Bat-tastic stars.

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Bug! The Adventures of Forager #3

Bug! The Adventures of Forager (2017-) #3Bug! The Adventures of Forager (2017-) #3 by Lee Allred
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Forager, Kuzoko, and her teddy bear wind up inside a reality shard and find Chagra. Too bad Chagra is aligned with Atlas, an unstoppable hero...

The whacked-out Kirby lovefest continues as Bug and company go up against Atlas, a Jack Kirby creation that appeared in an issue of First Issue Special in the 1970s, then languished in limbo until James Robinson revived him for a Superman story around 2010-ish.

As Bug and friends make their way across a lava flat, the weird ass teddy bear reveals more about Bug's past and how he wound up in that basement in the first issue in the first place. Things are unfolding nicely and I have no idea where the book will end up, always a plus in my book.

The humor and quirkiness continue in this one. There's a musical yak and I chucked when Bug said Atlas had a First Issue. I love how the book feels simultaneously silver age and modern.

While I didn't think this was as explosive as the first two, it was still a lot of fun. My old man brain keeps forgetting things between issues. I think before #4 comes out, I'll have to reread the first three issues again.

At the halfway mark, Bug is still the only reason I go to the comic shop every month. There will be a vermin-shaped hole in my life when the series ends. Four out of five Kirby dots.

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Legion of Super-Heroes/Bugs Bunny Special #1

Legion Of Super-Heroes/Bugs Bunny Special #1Legion Of Super-Heroes/Bugs Bunny Special #1 by Sam Humphries
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Supergirl is dying and the Legion needs a mineral that no longer exists to save her. They send Computo II back in time to find Superboy and the mineral but Computo returns with Bugs Bunny instead. Can the Legion sort things out before Supergirl dies?

When I was buying Bug! The Adventures of Forager (2017-) #2 the other day, I mentioned looking forward to Batman '66 Meets the Legion of Super-Heroes (2017-) #1 and my love for the Legion of Super Heroes in general. The clerk pointed me to this.

Once you get over the initial concept of Bugs Bunny and the Legion of Super Heroes co-existing in the same universe, this was pretty good. It's actually hilarious at times, most of the humor being supplied by Bugs and, surprisingly, Timber Wolf. It feels like a Mystery Science Theater version of a classic Legion tale.

Tom Grummett's art is retro enough to feel right for a tale featuring the late 1960s/early 1970s version of the Legion and Sam Humphries' crafted as suitable a story as possible to feature both teh Legion and Bugs Bunny.

When two things you liked quite a bit as a kid collide like this, it could easily be a train wreck. This was more like dipping your french fries in a milk shake, a delightful surprise. I never imagined Bugs Bunny meeting the Legion of Super Heroes before but it turned out pretty well. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Bug! The Adventures of Forager #2

Bug! The Adventures of Forager (2017-) #2Bug! The Adventures of Forager (2017-) #2 by Lee Allred
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After being hurled into the past, Bug lands in World War II Nanda Parbat and meets The Losers, the original Blue Beetle, the original Sandman, and Sandy. Can Bug and his new friends stop General Electric's much younger self? And what happens to the future if they do?

The Allred brothers' love letter to Jack Kirby's DC (and Fox publications) work continues. Bug gets mistaken for The Red Bee and teams with some wartime heroes. Some loose ends left behind from last issue are explained and tons more ends are left hanging at the end.

One of the highlights of the issue is this Bug quote "It's called strategy! When life hands you a lemon, follow the produce truck back to the warehouse and exchange it for the fruit you want!"

The Bug character continues to grow on me. He combines the quirkiness of Madman with elements of Spider-Man. He also carries a nifty shield but it's too unwieldy to throw, a nice nod/jab at another Kirby creation. His red and white garb is pretty iconic for a character who only appeared a few times before this miniseries.

The love the Allred boys feel for Bug, and the rest of Kirby's creations, comes through on every page. Bug looks and feels like a particularly good comic from yesteryear with some modern sensibilities. Nothing bad to say about Bug #2 except that, like most modern comics, I wish I had the whole thing to read at once. Four out of five stars.

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Bug! The Adventures of Forager

Bug! The Adventures of Forager (2017-) #1Bug! The Adventures of Forager (2017-) #1 by Lee Allred
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Some time after his apparent death, Forager wakes up in the basement of a house on Earth with a talking teddy bear and a creepy little girl for company. Then things get weird...

Michael Allred has been one of my favorite comic book artists for aeons. When I saw he was teaming with his brother to do Bug! The Adventures of Forager, my curiosity was piqued. I only knew Forager from the New Gods entry in the 1980s version of Who's Who in the DC Universe and the awful "Olsen-bug" version from Countdown.

According to an interview I read before picking this up, Lee and Michael Allred became obsessed with Forager because of a battered copy of New Gods #9 at their guitar teacher's place when they were kids. Since Forager only made three appearances, including his death in Cosmic Odyssey, they pretty much had a clean slate.

The book reads like a love letter to Jack Kirby's DC creations from the first panel. Bug tears out of a cocoon and gets plunged neck deep in strangeness. Without spoiling too much, Bug teams up with another Jack Kirby creation from the 1970s to take on a super villain named General Electric.

The first issue is mostly setup but does a great job of setting the tone. Michael Allred's retro-style art is marvelous, as always, and his brother's writing works toward his strengths, making for one hell of a fun comic. Not only does it make me anxious for the rest of the series, it makes me want to try the rest of the Young Animals line and read all the 1970s Jack Kirby DC comics I can find. Five out of five stars.

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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Silver Surfer: Citizen of Earth

Silver Surfer, Vol. 4: Citizen of EarthSilver Surfer, Vol. 4: Citizen of Earth by Dan Slott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Silver Surfer faces an earth threatening menace when Dawn Greenwood meets two of his former girlfriends. Oh, and there's a machine that's threatening to turn earth into a Utopia like Zenn-La, the Surfer's home world.

Dan Slott and Michael Allred's take on the Silver Surfer through a Doctor Who lens continues. The Surfer, Dawn, and Toomie adjust to life in Anchor Bay and save the earth a couple times. The Silver Surfer even becomes a celebrity.

I love the way Allred and Slott make the Silver Surfer feel like a comic from years ago while still having it feel modern and fresh at the same time. The charm of the series is the relationship between Surfer and Dawn and the Surfer's innocence and naivety.

Michael Allred's art is stellar, as always, and Dan Slott manages to make a character that has been pretty inaccessible at times to the Marvel Universe's equivalent to Doctor Who. The only thing I don't like about this run of the Silver Surfer is that it has to end at some point. Four out of five stars.

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