New Comic Book Reviews for the Week of 5/2/18

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Harbinger Wars 2 Prelude #1 (Valiant)

It begins. The government goes too far and while keeping LiveWire distracted, they go after LiveWire’s Secret Weapon psiots. However, a small power fluctuation allows LiveWire the ability to break the psiot dampening in the building she is in and she learns of the threat to her the Secret Weapons. This is the first shot fired and it pushes LiveWire into the position making a massive move back. In this case, killing all of the electronics in the country. As in EVERYTHING!!! Now the stage is set for the Harbinger Wars 2.

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LiveWire is my favorite female comic book character. I love her story. I love that she started out as a somewhat side character and her story naturally progressed to the point where she is one of the most powerful characters in the Valiant Universe. I know that this HW2 is going to put LiveWire and Ninjak on opposite sides (they’re in a relationship) and this is going to be intense when it plays out.

Of special note in this issue, LiveWire is “hearing” everything done through technology and remember in Superman Returns when Superman is hearing everything and trying to tone out all of the voices, she is somewhat in the same boat but I think she is really “hearing” and “seeing” even more. I love the way this “over stimulation” plays out in this issue. I highly recommend jumping on this massive event NOW!!!

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Spawn  #285 (Image)

This is a great issue. Spawn is playing the game of being powerless and mute, moving the pieces on the board to achieve his ends. What are those ends? We the reader don’t really know yet but it works. The art is still terrifying and beautiful to behold. I’m loving this journey that Spawn is now on. I’m all in on this ride!!!

 

 

 

New Comic Book Reviews for the Week of 4/25/18

X-O Manowar #14 (Valiant)

This has to be one of the BEST covers of the year!!! I also love that the art inside is now back up to a gold standard. The last several issues, the art had been pretty sub par. I’m happy to say, every panel of this issue looks beautiful.

Aric returns to Earth, just in time for the Harbinger Wars 2 Event that starts next month. We don’t know where the battle lines are drawn but I’m willing to bet that LiveWire and Capshaw are on alternate sides here, both vying for X-O’s to join their side. We also get to see how the armor has grown in character too. I like that the armor can now speak, it makes for more character depth as the armor really is another aspect of the X-O character. You should definitely pick this one up!!!

Saga #51 (Image)

This starts out as more of an in between issue for our characters. We get to see daily events pass as they wait for the reporters to come through on the identity changes for Robot and his kid. Yet, don’t think it is all just normal life playing out. We lose a character in this book and I’m willing to bet there will be some major fallout in the next issue. Saga is still one of the BEST books out there and you can’t help but to be moved by these complex and interesting characters every month. Pick it up!!!

New Comic Book Reviews Supplemental for 3/12/18

Prism Stalker #1 (Image)

I admit, the cover drew me to this one. It’s a very trippy cover and you know how sometimes you get a cool cover but then the inside is completely different? In this case, it’s not. While the trippy artwork works for the cover, inside it somewhat assaults you. It’s hard to make heads or tail of certain scenes. The story could use work too. The starring character is named Vep and she’s a refugee working in an insectoid society, or hive with trippy colors. When another group sees her ability to act fast, they want to take her for a job of their own. The big problem is, the artwork is a barrier to getting into the story that is really limiting to begin with. Chances are, I probably will not pick up the next issue.

Dissonance #1 (Image)

Another new comic I checked out on Comixology was Dissonance. This is a futuristic alternate Earth where there are powerful human-spirit hybrids called Fantasmen who control the direction that Earth politics and society play out. The art is okay but nothing groundbreaking and again, there are some trippy characters (the spirits) who not only look trippy but talk trippy (Cheech and Chong bro!!!). There is a brother and sister that are trying to one up each other too, and the sister likes to beat her slave/assistant (I think??? This isn’t very clear what she is.). It’s starts with a set up for this universe but honestly… it’s really confusing. I just couldn’t get into it and as such, I’ll probably not be picking up this one either.

God Complex #1- 4 (Image)

Ding Ding Ding… We have a winner!!! I picked up the first 4 issues of God Complex and I’m hooked. This is a very cyberpunk world that is controlled by these masters that have mythological God names. When 3 acolytes from a Trinity Church are killed, it sets off a mystery as to who did it? Were the masters behind it? A shadowy revolutionary group? The Trinity Church itself? All issues for the lead detective, named Seneca, to find out. The art is beautiful inside and outside. If you like cyberpunk sci-fi then this is one you should definitely pick up. The next issue hits in April and I can’t wait!!! I’ll be adding this to my Comixology subscription list for sure!!!

New Comic Book Reviews for the Week of 3/7/18

Bloodshot Salvation #7 (Valiant)

From the summary: Master Storyteller Jeff Lemire takes the helm for the year’s most terrifying, most memorable special issue – told entirely in PITCH-BLACK DARKNESS!

The Reality: This is the “artless issue” and I paid $3.99 for pages of blurb story on black panels with a final page of actual artwork. I’ve been dreading this issue because I knew this crappy gimmick was coming and here it is. Does it work? NO!!! It’s disappointing and lazy. At least put some effort into it and make shapes on the panels in some fashion, not black panels. $3.99 for no art is a rip though. Was the story worth it? Not for $3.99. The entire “story” could have been written out in 3 pages without breaking it up into panels and then you could actually have art throughout the rest of the book. You get your “tension” in the first three pages followed by some action. Nope… just black panels. Valiant should give everyone a free comic for this transgression.

Gideon Falls #1 (Image)

This is the first issue of a new ongoing series that is creator owned by Jeff Lemire (same guy who wrote the above BloodShot), and Andrea Sorrentino. So far… I LIKE IT!!! It’s got that really dark and moody art that swims in realism while giving you those tinglies down the back of your neck. This is just the first issue and it’s a really intriguing set up. One man in the city appears to be somewhat crazy and a collector of nails and hinges that he believes to be evil, and talking to him, while a new Catholic Priest to a small town is pulled into creepy mystery of how the prior Father died and that Father’s ghost leading him through a field to a black barn.

Okay… I’m hooked. I want to know more. The Horror/Occult genre really works well in comics. Spawn proved that and Gideon Falls has the feel of the most occultish Spawn books. It’s got an interesting story with some impressive visuals. I’ll be getting issue #2!!!

That’s all for this week!!!

New Comic Book Reviews for the Week of 2/28/18

Spawn #283 (Image)

Another month another excellent Spawn cover and beautiful interior art. In this issue, Al and Cyan are returning from Japan, where things didn’t go so well, as far as protecting Cyan was concerned. We also get to see some new powers that Cyan can use. Is it just me or does a spin off book or series starring Cyan seem to be making more and more sense now?

To protect Cyan from the evil that wants her, Spawn comes up with a new idea, one that requires him to kidnap a rapper, who seems to be part of that evil, and then get publicly linked to him via pictures and every social media known to man. I’m not sure what the overall plan is but color me intrigued!!! Also, the return of an all new Violator is coming next issue, so this promises to be an interesting direction. Spawn is by far my favorite book right now. The quality of art, occult horror story, and reality (the way dialogue is spoken) based dialogue make it such an interesting book to follow. I’d encourage anyone who likes adult based comics to get on board!!!

X-O Manowar #12 (Valiant)

X-O Manowar recently has been… “Damn look at the awesome cover art!!!” Then open the book and … “Oh… well this is somewhat regular.” Issue #12 is no different there. I’m really underwhelmed by the inside art and layouts. We start out with a naked Aric by a pond who is set upon by some stragglers. There’s a fight, he takes their clothes. Then he sets out to confront the council who deposed him. Meanwhile, there are panels of the bounty hunter group discussing what to do with the X-O Manowar armor, followed by one of them wanting to try it on, which is yet again another retread of what happens when someone not suited for the armor tries it on. When Aric confronts the council, Bruto gets the drop on him after the bounty hunters show up. All but one on the council is struck down and then Aric welcomes the armor back to him as a second skin. There are no panels to show the armor escaping the containment field it was in, or flying to the council room, or even a hint of how it got there.

The best way for me to describe this issue is “janky.” I get the feeling that the bounty hunters will be disposed of in the next two issues which really makes that bounty hunter origin issue a complete waste of time. This second volume started out really well but has since dropped off with the current story. Like I said in an earlier posting, Valiant is spinning wheels in prep for the Harbinger War 2 event and as such the monthly’s are suffering for it.

Saga #49 (Image)

I can’t review this yet because I’m not caught up with my past reading but issue #49 of this excellent series came out today and this series is a no-brainer to pick up because it so damn good!!!

Streamline (Stream of Thought) 2/27/18

Steamline Update

I haven’t done a Streamline in awhile… So here goes… I haven’t had much to say on the general front. The world is a fucking mad house and society is going to hell. That pretty much sums up the partisan BS happening in the outside world. Lunatics I tell you!!! More and more every news report is greeted with me giving myself the facepalm or beating my head on a desk. No nuance to any story now… either you go with the created narrative based on surface findings or you are wrong. It’s so shallow, wrong, and just insane.

The Comic Book Nudging…

Right now for me, Image comics is just nudging out Valiant Comics as my favorite reading. This is based on how excellent and adult comics like Spawn, Sam & Twitch, and Saga are. The reason I like Valiant Comics so much is that they are more “adult” than Marvel or DC. Turns out, Image is full on adult and doesn’t apologize for it any way, shape, or form. I like that. Let’s not pretend that comics are mainly for kids anymore. There are more adults reading comics than kids these days and Image is cornering the market on adult themed titles. I’d love to see Valiant Comics move even more toward adult themes but with their recent full on acquisition by DMG, I have a feeling they may be pushed more toward the tights action because that is DMG’s main interest, superheroes in tights movies.

Also… Valiant has been stuck in “setup” mode lately. They keep putting out comics that set up things but take the whole entire issue to do so. Bloodshot stopped the action and took a whole issue to set up Rampage. X-O stopped the action and took a whole issue to set up a bounty hunter group. Ninjak (in Ninja-K) has been going down the list of lettered Ninja, to give a back story to each which feels like almost every issue becomes a set up for the mystery. Back stories are great and all… but a good backstory should be peppered into a narrative without calling full stop to it. So it just feels off kilter right now. I’m hoping things do pick up. We’ll see…

Sidenote: The next Bloodshot Salvation has no art in it, save the last page. It’s all word balloons on black panels. To say I’m already peeved off thinking about this is an understatement because if the book literally doesn’t have art in it, why are they still going to charge me $3.99 for it???

Olivia Munn kinda has to Marry into Pop Culture

Most of us in Pop Culture Fandom know Olivia Munn from G4 Attack of the Show! and as such, she’s the hot uber geek girl of pop culture fandom. For awhile there, Fandom was having flashbacks to Middle and High school as the uber geek hot girl was dating the uber jock (Aaron Rodgers). That ended and he’s now with Danica Patrick who is also in sports (racing). Now Fandom waits in quiet anticipation of who Olivia Munn shows up with next. Granted, fandom shouldn’t have this sort of peeping Tom fascination with her love life but she is really the Queen of Pop Culture Fandom. I mean… Queen of England or Queen of Pop Culture Fandom… Who is more important? I’m just going to answer that for you: The Queen of Pop Culture Fandom is much more important and that is a crown/title that Olivia Munn wears by default. So if she dates or gets married outside of it… That would register as a great disturbance in the force.

Why do people on Facebook ask for Prayers?

I keep seeing people on Facebook who ask for prayers… but they don’t give any context. It really seems to be a cry for attention. How do you ask someone to pray for you when you don’t provide any context on what to pray for? Honestly… When I see these posts, I just think: NO!!! You have not provided the info needed to attempt a prayer and prayers equal time so they are valuable. I’m certainly not going to reply to your post with a comment and ask “Just what am I praying about?” Because for one, that just provides the attention for the seeker, and for two… I just don’t care. Maybe if you provided that missing context I would care, but because you don’t, and because you just think you are entitled to prayers… I don’t.

Twitter Fail

People love to Retweet a Tweet they disagree with and add a snarky commentary onto it to signal their disapproval and superiority. This however spreads the original reach of the Tweet that contained the information that was originally disagreed with. The BEST way to silence those who are tweeting idiocy is to ignore them. That’s it… Simply let their tweets die in the void that is Twitter. Or let their own echo chamber pass them around between one another. They already agree with the idiocy so who cares?

There was a hashtag last week that was trending (# killNRA) and it was sending people on the right into an uproar. “How can Twitter allow this to Trend???!!!???” Well… If you clicked on the hashtag, then clicked on the “latest” Tweets, and then read through them… You would have seen that the majority were people on the right using the hashtag to register their anger that it was trending, thereby making it trend.

Twitter as a platform for social media is really dumb. There are no meaningful convos there and the hashtag system is a horrible barometer for measuring anything. Really… unless you have a customer service issue or you want to LIVE tweet a show… It’s better to avoid Twitter.

Spawn (Full Series Review)

Spawn issues 1 – Current (282 as of this writing)

Spawn has had about 4 iterations in the series so far. There was the beginning with Al Simmons and the deal with Malebolgia that started everything off. He was more of a superhero back then. Then came the Jim Downing version which took the series into a very dark and occultish place. Then the return of Al Simmons in a soft reboot that reveled in inconsistencies, and now Al Simmons de-powered and human fighting crime as a superhero, which is thankfully moving back toward the occult and horror genre. As an FYI, Todd McFarlane has had total control over the character since issue #1. While there have been creative teams on the book, McFarlane has always had a say in how the book goes. When Spawn hits issue #300 it will officially be the longest running independent comic book on record. That in itself is a great achievement. How it got there is a tangled web filled with action, horror, drama, and so many inconsistencies that if you read it straight through, you have to scratch your head. Even so… You’ll love every minute of it.

Al Simmons Makes a Deal

The First Iteration: #1 – #185

It all started off easily enough… Al Simmons is killed on a mission, makes a deal with a devil (Malebolgia), is sent back to Earth 5 years later in a time jump, and sees that his wife has remarried and has a child, he can’t change into himself and instead transforms into a white man, and his whole life has been changed. We get the introduction of Sam and Twitch, the two detectives that this series utilizes extensively and then from time to time just forgets. We get Al’s wife Wanda, her husband Terry (Al’s former best friend), and then their daughter Cyan. Al/Spawn is confused throughout this run and routinely hides away in the shadows of the city’s alleyways. When Spawn does leave the ally’s, you as the reader kind of rejoice because a lot of time is spent in those ally’s, maybe too much time. You jump from occult evil villains to mistreated gorillas becoming cyborgs, and then everything in between. I kind of felt that for at least the first 100 books Spawn has an identity crisis of what it should be. Are they 90’s superhero or occult horror? In a way, it makes sense, because Malebolgia is basically screwing with Al the whole time and he is being made to be confused about his surroundings. Taken in monthly… it probably plays out better. Taken in a binge read… You can feel and see the fight for what the book should be.

When the book reaches a box, the twins are brought in. These twins, born to Wanda in a miraculous and accelerated birth end up being God and the Devil. From there, there is a massive fight between Spawn and the twins which supposedly results in the gateways to Heaven and Hell, to and from Earth, being closed. I say supposedly because all of this is forgotten later. From the Twins, locked away in their heaven and hell, to the gateways being locked. We end up coming to our first soft reboot when Al blows his own head off with his powers and the mysterious Jim Downing wakes up from a coma.

The Downing Files

The Second Iteration #185 – #250

The mysterious Jim Downing wakes up from a coma in a hospital and a whole new cast of characters are introduced. The book goes full on occult and horror and guess what? It works. The art style becomes one where it looks as if every panel is painted. It’s dark, Spawn is more terrifying, and the foes of Spawn are actually quite scary. We have the introduction of the Catholic church and Vampires even. Don’t get attached to these storylines though (I did), because they end up being left unanswered. This section of Spawn ended up being the best story so far. It had a great set up, it was very in depth, it felt like it had a direction and was leading somewhere. Sure we missed Al but then we had also found out that before Al offed himself, he had abused Wanda and took the life of their unborn child in that abuse. So in a way, it was easier to get over him and move onto Jim Downing.

When issue #250 hits and Jim’s story is rapidly ended in another soft reboot, it is a jolt and not the good kind. What happened with the cast that was helping Jim? What happened with Marc Rosen’s girlfriend who was being inhabited by a demon? What happened between the two sects of vampires? What happened to Clown’s plans? Even the build up of the vampire Bludd and his ultimate plan to use the Spawn symbiote to breach the gates of Heaven is left to wither in the wind. None of these are answered because “Al just decided to come back.”

Al’s Back…

The Third Iteration Issues #251 – #262

Al comes back and Jim Downing is in a coma again. We get a new artist who is not very good (thankfully he is not around for very long!!!) and we get books that revel in inconsistencies. I could forgive the whole gates to Heaven and Hell being closed inconsistency in the last iteration because hinging it all on the suit and the dead zones are partially acceptable. But now, those gates are no more. The twins of Wanda and Terry are back (????????). I’m not sure how since the twins were God and the Devil and they both went to their respective homes. Doesn’t matter apparently. The unborn soul of a son of Al and Wanda is a factor, even though in Al’s previous tenure as Spawn, he fought a person named Morana who was the unborn daughter of Al and Wanda. It turns out this soul is now Al’s soul (???????). God and Satan are now the visage of an old man and a demon though God does turn into Granny (???????) and a dog (????????)… Seriously, this third iteration felt like Twilight Zone Spawn.

Al finds out that Wanda burned alive in a car accident and since Heaven and Hell go even/odd on where souls go, Wanda was unlucky and went to hell. So Al is going to go to Hell and save her. This sets up a massive battle where Wanda is ultimately sent to Heaven, Satan is defeated, Spawn is made human and gives up his symbiote suit (keeping but a piece of the living suit secretly), and once again, the gates to Heaven and Hell are closed and locked on Earth… Again.

Honestly…. I didn’t really like these issues. From art to story they just felt like flimsy tangents after the depth of the Jim Downing story. It was a retread of the battle against Malebolgia and had no meaning other than to make Al realize that his wife, who he formerly abused, loved him and wanted him to become a superhero to protect the children of the world… Ugh… Wanda should have stamped the hashtag #MeToo on Al’s head and sent him to hell while she emerged as the new Spawn. That would have been preferable even.

Al is Superhero Spawn…oh wait… maybe…

The fourth Iteration Issues #263 – #275 (and possibly the fifth iteration with #276 – #282)

Al has no powers, a fragment of the symbiote suit that must grow, and a storage locker of money and guns so he can become Batman/Punisher on the streets and stop crime. Yes, we are now a superhero in tights book again. I really felt that this stretch was just searching for an identity again. It’s with issue #276 that we start to feel like we are at home again with the “Dark Horror” arc. This arc is once again that dark and creepy painted style and the horror aspects overtake the superhero. I’m not ready to split this iteration up yet because this arc just ended and I’m not sure if it will stay with the good occult slant or revert to superhero stuff again next month. However… I do like that Cyan now has a dark power and it seems she may be getting here very own monthly, which I think is pretty cool. Issues #276 – #282 were simply beautiful to look at and read because it did feel so much like the Downing/Spawn. With luck, this current creative team can stick around awhile!!!

For all of the inconsistencies, soft reboots, and retcons… I still loved reading through every issue (not so much #251 – #262 but I digress…). Spawn at its best is a dark adult comic that deals with the occult and horror situations. When it shrugs off the “superhero” moniker it pulls the reader into a world that is truly frightening and yet exciting at the same time. When the full cast of characters are being attended to (and not forgotten for issues on end), we get a very dynamic book with much depth and drama that makes you want more. I’ve got the first 30 issues from when the comic originally came out and then I’ve re-bought them and have the whole series in digital via Comixology, and new issues are subscribed too, so I’ll be continuing down this dark path with Spawn and I can’t wait to see what is coming for #300 and beyond!!!