July 30, 2021
No One Left to Fight II #1 (of 5):
Writer and co-creator Aubrey Sitterson started writing two new miniseries for Dark Horse, the latest issues of which are also in these solicitations. Artist and co-creator Fico Ossio started illustrating a “Mister Miracle” miniseries for DC. With its creators busy with other projects like this, you can understand why I wasn’t expecting a follow-up to the fun “Dragonball But With The Serial Numbers Filed Off” miniseries “No One Left to Fight.” Yet lo and behold here we have the first issue of the new miniseries in these solicitations.
While more of this series is a good thing, it’s especially true since the first miniseries ended on a cliffhanger. One of the best things about “No One Left to Fight” is that while its inspiration is patently obvious, Sitterson and Ossio take the story in directions that “Dragonball” wouldn’t (and most likely couldn’t) possibly go. Yes, the idea that its main character might be suffering from a version of Alzheimer’s sounds inherently depressing, but the energy and style of the first series does make me interested in seeing where the creators go with this particular setup.
Read the rest of this entry »
July 28, 2021
It occurs to me that I may have to rename this particular column “Penguin Picks” after this month…
Immortal Hulk vol. 10: Of Hell And Of Death
That’s certainly a cheery title for this series to wrap up its run with, isn’t it? Yes, that’s right, Al Ewing and Joe Bennett’s hugely popular and critically acclaimed run comes to an end with this volume, which collects the 96-page issue #50 from these solicitations as well. I wasn’t as onboard as everyone else was with their new direction since turning “Hulk” into a horror title only really works if it’s actually scary. Yet the ingenuity of Ewing’s retcons and overall plotting combined with Bennett (and friends’) consistently good art quickly made me and a whole lot of other people into a believer.
While it’s always exciting to see a new creative team find a different way to look at a well-established character like the Hulk, I’m especially glad that this version clicked with readers. Why? Well, after years of writing quality books for Marvel that never sold all that well (see “Loki: Agent of Asgard,” “New Avengers,” “Ultimates”) Ewing finally found himself attached to a genuine hit that put him on the A-list at the company where he belongs. I don’t see him staying at the company forever, but it’s good to see his talent recognized while he’s still there.
And speaking of Mr. Ewing…
Read the rest of this entry »
July 26, 2021
You know… When I started reading this series, I wasn’t expecting to read a storyline where Minare and a couple of co-workers head out to a rural village for research, fall into an aqueduct via trapdoor, and are recruited by a cult to spread their dogma. Dogma that happens to come with a side of radiowave brainwashing. Hiroaki Samura made this title’s irreverent tone clear from the start, but a storyline like this makes you wonder if he was about to push things too far.
I don’t think that happened here as things still manage to stay within the boundary of reality that “Wave, Listen to Me!” has established for itself. Minare, Mizuho and Katsumi are still very much in character here, they’re just in a situation that’s a little bit “extra” by this title’s standards. That’s fun, as is seeing their rescuers actually be capable of rescuing while advancing some interesting character development between them and the people they’ve come to rescue. There’s also some enjoyable goofiness thrown in to keep things from becoming too serious and while this arc does seem like it’d be a good place for Samura to flex his action skills, he decides to ditch that for comedy instead. Well played, sir!
After this storyline wraps up, things start getting back to normal for the series. Only now Minare has a bit of notoriety after her cult adventure, and that’s enough to get her a possible slot for her radio station’s inter-station Valentine’s collaboration. This could be her big break, assuming that her attempt to get a story for it with Mizuho doesn’t break them first. That said, most of the volume’s second half is dedicated to fleshing out Makie’s backstory. It’s been hinted at before, but it’s welcome to see how coming to work at Voyager and her affection for a specific radio show has been a social lifesaver for her. I wish I could say as much for her relationship with Chuuya, but by the logic of this endearingly oddball series it could actually wind up working out for the both of them. Which would be nice, even if the regularly enjoyable shenanigans of the volume’s back half aren’t quite as entertaining as it’s manic front.
July 25, 2021
Usagi came back to his hometown for a short visit in his very first volume. Then he came back again in vol. 6 with the intention of staying, and we all know how that turned out. After that… huh. It really has been a while since Usagi has visited his hometown. So you really can’t accuse creator Stan Sakai of being eager to repeat himself when it’s been a couple decades since we’ve seen this setup in action. Better still when he uses it to give the title character a hard decision to make between doing what’s honorable and what’s right.
Read the rest of this entry »
July 24, 2021
Would you care to take a guess which “Avengers” series isn’t present (save for one issue) on Marvel Unlimited? I blame Conan since the Cimmerian’s other Marvel-published comics aren’t on that app either. So that means I had to buy this volume to see what kind of threat would have him team up with Wolverine, Elektra, Brother Voodoo, the Punisher, and Venom. Said threat turns out to be Evil Wizard Kulan Gath who has teamed up with the Hand and some Other Wizards to summon Jhoatun Lau, The Marrow God, to Earth. The idea is that after The Marrow God has feasted on humanity, his acolytes will join him in the temple in the stars. Unfortunately for them, the only people standing in between these wizards and their goals are some of the most kill-happy antiheroes in the Marvel Universe.
“Savage Avengers” is written by Gerry Duggan, and I was feeling optimistic about this fact after his excellent work on “Marauders.” What he delivers here isn’t on the same level, but it still has its moments. Logan and Conan bond after fighting and beer, while the latter later uses the former and his claws as an improvised weapon at one point. In fact, the barbarian gets most of the interesting material in vol. 1 as he has a close encounter with one of Venom’s siblings and even gets to bond with the Punisher by telling him about Crom at the end. Everyone else feels more or less in character, even though none of them get to do anything to make them stand out here.
Art for this volume comes from Mike Deodato Jr., and this was his last Marvel project before departing for creator-owned pastures. While I’ve liked a lot of what the artist has done over the years at Marvel, I don’t think this represents his best work. There’s a clunkiness to his storytelling as a lot of his action sequences don’t have a smooth flow to them and wind up feeling staged as a result. There are still some memorable sights, such as a double-page spread of Wolverine taunting his attackers after he’s been stuck with over a dozen arrows and a sword. So with the writing and the art only offering occasional flashes of genuine entertainment, I’m left feeling ambivalent about buying further volumes of this series. I’d certainly read more of it if it was “free” on Marvel Unlimited, but since it isn’t we’ll see how long it takes me to get around to seeing how Conan acclimates to the Marvel Universe with his new friends.
July 23, 2021
I’ve read a lot of Cullen Bunn’s comic book writing over the years. Some of it good, some of it bad, and some that I can just feel indifferent towards. Tyler Crook, on the other hand, is someone who has always delivered enjoyably creepy art and acquitted himself well when he took over from Guy Davis on “B.P.R.D.” He departed that series to do Harrow County with Bunn, and it’s a series that has always been on my radar. Even if the buzz surrounding it has been too quiet to convince me that picking up collected editions of the series with four issues each isn’t worth my money. That’s changed with this omnibus edition, which collects the first four volumes/sixteen issues, and now I can finally see what I’ve been missing out on.
Read the rest of this entry »
July 22, 2021
In which I find out just how good the comics that inspired the movie really are.
July 19, 2021
It was one thing for the opening pages of vol. 1 to imply that this was going to be a story about a girl and her relationship with a giant monster that was clearly Not Godzilla. It wasn’t until the very end of that volume where it became clear that’s exactly what this story was going to be about. Very slowly, though, as the majority of this volume doesn’t deal with the Big Not G at all. No, vol. 2 starts off with a brief jungle detour before coming back to protagonist Asa Asada in a plan with Kasuga as the two of them are still delivering supplies to the typhoon survivors and trying to find the girl’s family. This is something that’s complicated by Kasuga’s blood loss, a package that’s in the plane he stole, and the tail of the giant… whatever it is that’s still lurking in the harbor. Still, all of these should be easily surmountable problems for a girl with as much grit and determination as Asa has, right?
As was the case with vol. 1, your enjoyment of this series is likely going to hinge on how much you can buy into Asa being able to do all of the incredibly heroic stuff that she does. I was generally able to do that there, and the case is the same here. It would’ve been more impressive if some of these heroic acts weren’t so obviously telegraphed, but mangaka Naoki Urasawa’s confidence as a storyteller is such that I was able to be drawn in by these actions anyway.
Asa’s age won’t be a problem going forward as there’s a bit of a time-skip towards the end of the volume. It’s clear that the intervening years have imparted some maturity, but there are certain circumstances involving her family which further it even more. Urasawa also sets the story up for more intrigue after the time-skip as an old military friend of Kasuga’s comes to visit and Asa has a chance encounter that connects the jungle trip at the volume’s beginning to its present day. This is all entertaining enough on its own terms, even if it hasn’t caught fire yet like the mangaka’s best work had done by this point already.
July 18, 2021
The most surprising thing about “The Adventures Continue” is that it’s taken DC so long to do something like this. By “this” I mean, give us a continuation of “Batman: The Animated Series” in comics form. In the years since the series last episode, its reputation has only grown as one of the best takes on the Bat-mythos around. While DC has produced spinoff comics for the series, this is the first time they’ve got writers from the original series, Paul Dini and Alan Brennert, to give us a proper continuation of it. Which, along with artist Ty Templeton, is exactly what they’ve done here along with its weaknesses and strengths.
By weaknesses, I mean that the plotting for most of these stories is on the simple side. Most of the time you’ll be able to see where the story is going from the start, such is the case with the three-part arc “Mentors” where Deathstroke shows up in Gotham looking for Firefly. Could he be up to no good besides that? Hmmmmmmm… There’s also the fact that while Templeton does a good job of capturing the “Animated” look of Bruce Timm, it feels like that’s all he’s doing right here. This results in art that’s wholly appropriate to the series, but also feels too safe at the same time.
Even with the simplicity of the storytelling, Dini and Brennert, manage to inject some good twists into their stories and give us a version of Batman that still feels like one for the ages. This is best seen in the volume’s longest arc, which involves the writers’ take on a character that’s very familiar to longtime “Batman” fans. It’s also one that involves the Joker who’s every bit as charismatic, menacing, and insightful as you’d expect from Dini’s involvement. Finally, it’s nice to see some continuity between these stories as some of them play effortlessly off the events that precede them. The setup for “Season Two” is part of this and it offers a good reason to come back and see the further continuation of these “Adventures.”
July 17, 2021
...at least, that’s what I thought until I read this. The idea that all conspiracies are true isn’t a new one, Grant Morrison built “The Invisibles” out of it after all. Neither is the fact that a shared collective belief can change the world, as we saw that in “The Sandman.” What writer James Tynion IV and artist Martin Simmonds have done is find a way to fuse the two in a way that channels “Control” more than “The X-Files” as this is more about the people tasked with maintaining the status quo more than subverting it (so far). It also tackles the fluid nature of truth in our modern society in a way that’s as exciting as it is disturbing with a first volume that isn’t afraid to show you what kind of monsters are lurking the further down the rabbit hole you go.
Read the rest of this entry »