New Comic Book Reviews for the Week of 5/9/18

Medieval Spawn and Witchblade #1 (Image)

Here comes a nice little crossover series that will have Spawn and Witchblade mingling together. Will they fight or join forces… Or fight then join forces (that seems to be a pretty normal dynamic now). The art looks beautiful and the story in this first issue is basically just setting up Medieval Spawn and that he was once a former king. The land was once green and lush but now evil is everywhere. It’s Spawn though so it’s automatically worth checking out!!!

Scooby Apocalypse #25 (DC)

Whoa… We lose a cast member!!! I was not expecting this. I mean, this series is more adult than the after school cartoon version but we actually see the death of a main cast member in this issue.

This series has really been stellar so far and it works on so many levels. My only complaint is the backup story needs to be dumped so we get more pages of the main story every month. Other than that… I have no issue at all about recommending this. It’s a really good read!!!

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 3/28/18

Saga #50 (Image)

I can state with 100% authority that Saga is my favorite monthly book to read. This issue starts out with… sex. Specifically Marko going to town down under on Alana. Hey, it’s date night!!! They discuss whether they should really run or if they should take the reporters deal for a new life. They know they have to run run though because both Alana and Hazel would never be able to stay satisfied with staying on one planet for the rest of their life while in hiding. Meanwhile Robot and his son are handing over the political intrigue to the reporters so they can take the deal and get a new life, hidden from King Robot. Hazel takes in some practice fighting and magic time and is disappointed that the “family” is splitting up and she blames Robot for taking the deal. Robot’s son is planning on doing what “all adults do when they get into trouble… runaway.”

The quality of this book is like no other. On the one hand, I WANT more every month but on the other, I wouldn’t want to hurt the quality of the book by having more rushed out. These characters really have become as close to real as characters can get from the page. This book is simply amazing. Pick it up and pick up the entire series. It is worth it!!!

Spawn #284 (Image)

My second favorite read of every month is Spawn. This issue is CREEPY. The art is wonderfully horrifying too. We the reader don’t know what Spawn’s plan is right now but in this issue, he allows the police/government to capture him. Though, they can’t get his mask off, take X-rays of him, or identify him in anyway. So the police fly off the handle and beat him when he refuses to answer questions. With no pulse, and not moving, they take him down to the morgue to be autopsied and have his mask cut off. The last panel is of the saw getting closer to the mask. What a way to end on a cliffhanger and leave me wanting more!!!

X-O Manowar #13 (Valiant)SMDH… It’s the same rudimentary art from the last issue. None of the beautiful paintings or sweeping scenes that this series started with. And the really bad part… This doesn’t explain how the armor broke free of the force field in the last issue. It makes the stand alone bounty hunter issue completely worthless because it wraps up their story in a much too easy way. It wraps up the entire series 1 – 13 to date with a tidy bow even offering up the reason why Aric left Earth in a couple of panels. It’s like, they had to wrap it up quick and neat and do it as fast as possible in this last issue before Aric heads back to Earth for the coming Harbinger Wars 2. It even goes through several panels dedicated to wrapping up all of the politics of the world that Aric failed to rule when he was on the throne. Everything is pretty damn perfect there now.

This second volume of X-O Manowar started off promising but over the last several months completely went off the rails. The last several issues (since that wasted bounty hunter set up) have felt scattered and now completely rushed. Why can’t we have a better artist for this too??? The art looks like it would fit better on the Sunday newspaper comics panels. It just doesn’t live up to the art that this book started off with.

We’ll see how the next book goes. I’ve been waiting for this next one (issue #14) just because the cover art looks so damn good, but if the interior art is more of the same and the story doesn’t quickly move to something interesting… I may end up dropping it. We will see…

HellSpawn The Complete Collection (Image) – Review

HellSpawn The Complete Collection (Image)

The issues of Hellspawn take place sometime between when Al Simmons defeated Malebolgia and when he tried to kill himself with his own powers. The most important story here deals with Malebolgia’s concubine being born into the Earthly realm and trying to convince Al to become the ruler of Hell, which he was entitled to after winning the throne.

I love the art throughout this series. Spawn is at it’s best when it is dealing in the horror and occult genre and has the dark painted panels of art that go along with it. There are some genuinely creepy and horrifying panels of art in this book. The first several issue have the Bendis dialogue, which works well with the Sam & Twitch series but not so much for Spawn. Too much of the Bendis Dialogue really wears a person down. Make no mistake, he’s a great writer but the stutters, repeating of words, and ticks he uses may emulate some real world conversation but not to the overuse that he does it. He really uses these gimmicks way too much. Thankfully… by the time we get to Hel showing up, the dialogue is being tempered and much more easy to read (I didn’t catch who was doing the writing at this point).

A word of warning (since so many are easily offended wussies these days) if you want to pick this up, this is an adult comic with cursing, nudity, and violence. If hard fantasy and horror are too much for you, go grab yourself an Archie and leave this stuff alone for the rest of us. It’s an excellent series and a welcome addition to the continuing mythology of Spawn.

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!!!

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!!!

My Current Comics Subscription List through Comixology

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Ninja-K (Coming in November from Valiant): This is the next series in the Ninjak line. Which is my current favorite character to read. The last series was excellent and just came to an end recently. Ninjak #0 just came out as a recap and jumping on point for the new series. I highly recommend this one!!! Get the prior series too!!! Excellent writing and amazing art.

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X-O Manowar (Valiant): This is the second series of X-O Manowar (in the Valiant reboot). The first series was excellent and this one picks up sometime in the future, from where that series ended. We don’t know how or why Aric of Dacia is where he is but I’m sure it will all be revealed as keep going. We pick up with Aric on another planet, trying to live a normal life without the X-O armor, when he is pulled into a massive war.

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Harbinger Renegade (Valiant): The current series continues to follow our favorite bunch of psiots as they try to keep it all together. As far as I’m concerned, the Harbinger story line is the best group superhero story line in comics today. It’s intricate and complex but it always seems to reward you with a great payoff.

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Rapture (Valiant): This was a 4 issue series that just came to an end. It’s hard to explain this one if you don’t know anything about the Valiant Universe. Basically, the Geomancer has assembled a Valiant team (Ninjak, Punk Mambo, Shadowman) to stop a demon from breaking through the Deadside into the Liveside on the Tower of Babel.

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Faith and the Future Force (Valiant): This is another 4 issues summer series that features Faith in the lead role. Faith has to assemble a team of virtually every Valiant character to stop a villain that is changing time. Anyone who has read the Faith series will know that there are a ton of pop culture references and humor that a Faith book excels at doing.

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Secret Weapons (Valiant): This is another 4 issue summer series that features my favorite female hero: Livewire. This one has been fun because Livewire is looking for the unfortunate psiots who have been activated, but their powers are far over in left field (talking to birds, turning to immovable stone, Etc…). It also shows more of that romantic connection between Livewire and Ninjak that we are all cheering for!!!

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Bloodshot Salvation (Valiant): This is Bloodshot’s third series and the first was just released. So far it sets up the characters and is getting us introduced to how things will move forward. So we’ll see how it goes.

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Spawn (Image): You know who he is. Issue 300 is on the horizon and with it, it will become the longest independent comic to be published. Good stuff!!!

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Scooby Apocalypse (DC): Someone did a “What if the Scooby gang was in the Zombie Apocalypse” photo shoot, and I believe that is where this idea came from. This is the monster apocalypse, where almost all the people in the world have been transformed into monsters. This is close to Rated “R” Scooby here. They kill the monsters and they fight to survive. It’s better than watching The Walking Dead… Just saying…

As you can see… Most of what I collect is in the Valiant Universe. I haven’t collected new issues of my favorite superhero (Spider-man) ever since Marvel retconned his history by ending the Peter/MJ  marriage. I still see that as the biggest travesty to ever happen in comics. I don’t have any current Marvel subscription because they have double downed into the SJW political nonsense to the point where it is annoying as hell. I like the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) way better than their comic universe these days. Both Marvel and DC keep rebooting in odd ways too. At least with this Valiant run, they started everything over with no connection to the past run. That’s really the only way to reboot a universe. Valiant also seems to have the most adult story lines and the best art out there right now. It really is a refreshing and awesome universe to read stories in. Check it out if you get a chance!!!