Comic Picks By The Glick
Dark Horse Previews Picks:  February 2020

Dark Horse Previews Picks: February 2020

November 30, 2019

Above-the-Board Recommendation:

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.:  The Return of Effie Kolb #1 (of 2)


I like “Hellboy” stories as much as the next person, but do you know what they usually aren’t?  Scary. For whatever reason most comics pegged as horror don’t usually scare me. That includes the vast majority of “Hellboy” and Mignolaverse stories.  The big exception to this is a three-part miniseries Mignola wrote for artist Richard Corben, “The Crooked Man.” This Appalchian-set story had Hellboy encountering the title character and featured visuals that really clawed their way into my nightmares as Corben really dialed up the creepiness in his art.


Now Mignola is back with a sequel to that story… without Corben.  Joining the writer this time around is artist Zach Howard who has a long history on licensed IDW work such as “The Cape,” “Shaun of the Dead,” and “Spike.”  I like what I see in the cover he did for this miniseries, though I’m not really expecting him to bring the creepiness like Corben did to the original. I’d sure like to be proven wrong, though.


Huh… this didn’t turn out to be much of a recommendation.  Unless what I’m really trying to say is go and read “Hellboy:  The Crooked Man” if you haven’t already.

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Marvel Previews Picks:  February 2020

Marvel Previews Picks: February 2020

November 29, 2019

Above-the-Board Recommendation:

King Thor (or Thor by Jason Aaron vol. 16)


Seven years.  That’s how long Jason Aaron has been writing “Thor.”  It’s a virtual eternity in this comics marketplace where a creative team is kicked to the curb if their series doesn’t hit the ground running.  Aaron’s work on “Thor” has been consistently good to the point that he’s had successful runs with three regular artists -- Esad Ribic, Russell Dauterman, and Mike Del Mundo -- and been through enough relaunches that he can lay claim to writing four different “Thor #1” issues.  Six, if you count the first issues of the “Secret Wars: Thors” and this final miniseries.


“King Thor” is the writer’s bid to show us how the saga of Thor finally ends.  He’s getting around that tricky business of making it stick in the present continuity by focusing on the last days of Old King Thor in the far future.  He’s someone whose toughness is equaled only by his stubbornness, which has allowed him to survive battles against a necrotized Galactus, a phoenix-empowered Wolverine, and a Doctor Doom who became living god.  Now he faces his biggest challenge yet: Taking on his brother Loki who has been empowered by All-Black the Necrosword *guitar squeal*.


While it’s certainly possible that the final go-round in this blood feud could end with one or both brothers dead, my gut feeling is that Aaron’s got one good twist in store for us here.  I just hope it isn’t the return of a certain villain from his run that I’ve already been spoiled for. Still, with Ribic returning to pencil the majority of this, I’m expecting nothing less than greatness as Aaron brings down the curtain on one of the longest and best runs in modern superhero comics.

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Comic Picks #303:  I Am A Hero

Comic Picks #303: I Am A Hero

November 27, 2019

It takes more than just a gun to earn that designation as one of the best, and certainly the weirdest, zombie manga wraps up.

Ajin:  Demi-Human vol. 13

Ajin: Demi-Human vol. 13

November 25, 2019

This current storyline has the feeling of a final arc, what with how everything hits the fan here, but it still feels like we’ve still got a ways to go yet.  That’s because Sato has finally revealed his plan for destabilizing Japan. It employs the same kind of stupid/clever planning that this series has specialized in regarding Demi-Humans and their abilities.  So while I guess that Sato’s scheme could actually work, it still has me thinking, “Wasn’t there an easier way to do this?” More importantly, this setup reduces his presence considerably in this volume. That’s never a good thing because we’re left to focus on Kei and the rest of the cast instead as they play catch-up.


Is that as interesting as it sounds?  Pretty much. I’ve never really thought Kei was a very good protagonist as he’s always lacked Sato’s charisma and has done little to drive the events of the story himself.  So we’re left with seeing him reason out the crazy old soldier’s plan and the rest of his allies split up into groups to find out where he’s holed up at. So while things are being set up for vol. 14 to really deliver on this title’s one strength -- action -- it means vol. 13 is a little lacking in that department.  Still, it has its moments -- Okuyama being really helpful when he realizes the jig is up, Kei getting some very unexpected backup thanks to Tosaki -- and they’ll have to do until next time.

Uncanny X-Men:  Wolverine & Cyclops vol. 2

Uncanny X-Men: Wolverine & Cyclops vol. 2

November 24, 2019

Here’s the second half of Matthew Rosenberg’s story and it doesn’t quite nail the same entertainingly downbeat vibe that the first one had.  That’s mainly because the story goes off in a lot of different directions in vol. 2. From funerals for friends, to finding out what Emma Frost has been scheming, to fighting forgotten also-rans like Fabian Cortez and Shinobi Shaw, and to dealing with Gen. Callahan as he marshalls the forces of the Office of National Emergency against the remaining mutants.  It lacks the enchanting feeling that things were winding down for the X-Men that I liked in vol. 1, mainly because Rosenberg feels the need to throw in more stuff as he ramps things up for the finish.


That finish does come with one big hitch, however.  Emma pulls off a pretty impressive trick at the end of the penultimate issue that saves all the mutants’ bacon, but at a cost that not everyone thinks is worth it.  I’ll admit that what she does here is pretty ballsy from a narrative perspective and it sets up a question that’s pretty relevant to the X-Men’s ideals: Is it better to hide and survive or reveal yourself and be at war for the rest of your life?  Sadly, the question is a complete non-starter coming as late in the game as it does. We all know what the answer is going to be (what with the relaunch just around the corner…)


Rosenberg would’ve been better off posing this setup and the question it asks at the start of his run since he would’ve had more time to delve into its implications.  As it is, we’re left with a mostly decent filler storyline with mostly decent art. Salvador Larroca (and David Messina) only does the back half while Carloses Gomez and Villa (and Bob Quinn) handle the first half.  The art’s fine for what it is, though you can tell the accelerated serialization of this arc was wearing everyone down. It all adds up to a storyline that’s probably a little better than something that’s for completists only, except they’re the ones who’ll get the most out of dissecting its quirks and weird nods to dusty old continuity.

Age of X-Man:  Apocalypse and the X-Tracts

Age of X-Man: Apocalypse and the X-Tracts

November 23, 2019

...write about the comic that it got me to buy.  I wasn’t planning on buying any of the other “Age of X-Man” series since “Marvelous X-Men” made for a pretty self-contained spine of the story.  It’s just that seeing Apocalypse in the role of someone who wants to let love live is so utterly bizarre that I had to see how a series devoted to this take on the character would work.

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Age of X-Man:  The Marvelous X-Men

Age of X-Man: The Marvelous X-Men

November 22, 2019

Out of the ashes of “Uncanny X-Men:  Disassembled” comes… something really strange.  By either regular “X-Men” standards or even their alternate universe stories.  “The Marvelous X-Men” collection makes up the spine of the “Age of X-Man” event as it collects the title miniseries, as well as the “Alpha” and “Omega” issues that kick it off and wrap it up, respectively.  What’s unique about “The Age of X-Man” is that it doesn’t involve the X-Men fighting against some threat to their very existence. No, it merely seeks to show what happens when they’re given what they want and then poses this question to them, “Are you happy with it?”

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A Kirkman Doubleheader!

A Kirkman Doubleheader!

November 20, 2019

With “Invincible” and “The Walking Dead” no longer with us, the chances of me winding up with two Robert Kirkman-written books on my shelf to review is going to be an increasingly rare occurrence.  It’ll become even more so when one of the series I’m writing about here wraps up with its next volume. So with that in mind, let’s talk about how the latest volumes of “Outcast” and “Oblivion Song” have turned out.

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Superman vol. 1:  The Unity Saga — Phantom Earth

Superman vol. 1: The Unity Saga — Phantom Earth

November 18, 2019

“The Man of Steel” was a decent enough start to Bendis’ run on “Superman” and “Action Comics.”  It showed he had a good handle on the character, even if the stories being set up didn’t really grab me.  “Phantom Earth,” however, is a big step in the right direction. It’s got a great setup for a crisis worthy of Superman and offers further evidence that the writer knows what he’s doing with the character.  Even if some of the larger details of his run seem a bit fuzzy at this point.

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A Bride’s Story vol. 11

A Bride’s Story vol. 11

November 17, 2019

I wasn’t expecting to see Smith back with Talas after the two parted, or rather “were parted,” way back in vol. 3, but it’s nice that it happened nonetheless.  There’s a part of me that wishes it led to some more engaging storytelling here, however. Things start off with a chapter of glorified and glorious filler as we get a series of one and two full-page vignettes about Amir, Karluk and their family during the wintertime.  It all feels like an assemblage of plot beats that mangaka Kaoru Mori wasn’t able to fit in elsewhere, but she delivers such a convincing sense of place and humanity with each one that I’m glad she took the time to show them to us. With regards to our new couple, we’re first treated to finding out what happened to Talas after she last saw Smith and wound up being married to the most understanding man on the Silk Road.  From there, we get to see the preparations they make for Smith’s journey to Ankara.


This part of the volume is filled with lots of interesting details about the era and the place, with the standout being a chapter devoted entirely to showing us how photographs were made back then.  There’s also an amusing diversion as we learn about what happened to Smith’s old pocketwatch and the regal bearing it has acquired since he parted ways with it. It’s all nice enough, and looks amazing as always courtesy of Mori’s draftsmanship, even if it doesn’t feel like there’s anything pushing the story forward right now.  We’ve got the vague threat of the Russians in the background, and that might provide some drama if and or when they show up. 


In the here and now, however, I’m reminded of how the most recent volume of “The Ancient Magus’ Bride” managed to have its cake and eat it too in this regard.  It provided a lot of interesting worldbuilding as this volume did, but also delivered some equally engaging foreshadowing and genuinely compelling character development.  Vol. 11 is a nice enough diversion although it left me wanting more substantial storytelling next time around.

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