Preview Review for the Week of 7/15/20: Engineward #1

Preview Review for the Week of 7/15/20: Engineward #1

Welcome to the latest installment of Preview Reviews.  This is where we give advanced glimpses at some of the comics that will be coming out this Wednesday.

Here at Pop Culture Squad, we are decidedly Anti-Spoiler.  We feel that ruining someone’s experience with something for the sake of getting a scoop or clicks is the wrong thing to do. Therefore, we have decided to publish this column, as necessary, with mostly spoiler-free reviews of upcoming issues.  Hopefully, the information that we share with you will increase your excitement for these books.

This week we feature Engineward #1 from Vault Comics.

You can find it at your LCS on July 15, 2020.


Engineward #1
Vault Comics
Written by George Mann
Art by Joe Eisma
Letters by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Cover Art by Eisma

Original Solicitation:

Earth is an ancient myth, long forgotten. Now, the word of the god-like Celestials is absolute, and they rule with brutal efficiency. When Joss, an Engineward, discovers and reactivates the head of an ancient ghoulem, she finds all is not as intended. Her destiny-and that of her world-lies somewhere far beyond the borders of her shantytown.

PCS Review: Continue reading “Preview Review for the Week of 7/15/20: Engineward #1”

Brainiac On Banjo #091: DC Universe … From Streaming To Sinking

Brainiac On Banjo #091: DC Universe … From Streaming To Sinking

As of this writing, which is 9 PM EDT Sunday July 12, the DC Universe streaming service is still alive. It’s home to some of the most entertaining superhero teevee programing around, in my opinion. I can’t speak for yours. But that thing coughing up blood all over your Wi-Fi is, sadly, the DC Universe streaming service. And it’s the fault of their own artistic success.

Aside from hospitals, the only place that has had a worse month than the DCU has been the White House. In fairly quick order, the service lost future first-run episodes of Stargirl to the CW, saw The Doom Patrol multicast on the pathetic HBO Max sinkhole, Harley Quinn also airing on Syfy and Canada’s Adult Swim, and is thought to be migrating to HBO Max as well. Titans remains, but might be severely undermined by DC’s new Gotham City Police show (not necessarily the final title) spinning out of The Batman movie the now filming in Europe.

Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #091: DC Universe … From Streaming To Sinking”

Weird Scenes #097: Liberals — Love ‘Em or Hate ‘Em, They’re So Damn Cute!

Weird Scenes #097: Liberals — Love ‘Em or Hate ‘Em, They’re So Damn Cute!

You’ll be all in clover, and when they look me over / You’ll be the proudest fellow in the Easter Parade / On the Avenue, Fifth Avenue… “Easter Parade,” written by Irving Berlin, 1933.

“Pull my finger…”

It’s likely that Donald Trump just had the worst June of his life. I could be wrong; we don’t know what happened to him in the summer of 1953. He could have fallen off of a runaway turnip truck. This would explain a lot of stuff that his psychologist niece didn’t write about.

The first nine days of July haven’t been any better. He was just scolded by the Supremes for arguing he was above the law. They upheld the rule of law 7 to 2, and both of his (actually Moscow Mitch’s) benchplants voted against him… again. In fact, all nine justices said the president is not above the law. I wish they were around for Nixon. Continue reading “Weird Scenes #097: Liberals — Love ‘Em or Hate ‘Em, They’re So Damn Cute!”

With Further Ado #102: Interview with F.J. DeSanto about Bleed Them Dry

With Further Ado #102: Interview with F.J. DeSanto about Bleed Them Dry

Bleed Them Dry is a new comic series created by Hiroshi Koizumi, written by Eliot Rahal and illustrated by Dike Ruan, with colors and letters by Miguel Muerto and AndWorld Design, respectively . It’s published by one of those industrious “upstart” publishers, Vault Comics. This one looks like fun, and I appreciated the new twists and turns the creators brought to the party.

It turns out my old buddy F.J. DeSanto is involved with this one. Recently, as an invited guest speaker (via ZOOM) he enthralled my Ithaca College students  (and me!) with insights into his work developing comics (Vagrant Queen) and big properties (Transformers, Shazam) and bringing them to the screen. After enjoying the first issue of Bleed Them Dry, I was eager to catch-up with him and learn more about it.

Ed Catto:  How do you describe Bleed Them Dry to folks who ask, “What is this is about?”

F.J. DeSanto: I can usually hook someone with two simple words: Ninja Vampire.

EC: What makes Bleed Them Dry different from other vampire or sci-fi, or even cop stories? Continue reading “With Further Ado #102: Interview with F.J. DeSanto about Bleed Them Dry”

Weird Scenes #096: The Great AMERICAN Virus

Weird Scenes #096: The Great AMERICAN Virus

We live in a political world / In the cities of lonesome fear / Little by little / You turn in the middle / But you’re never sure why you’re here — Bob Dylan, “Political World,” 1989.

I am about to propose a hypothetical. If you are the least bit uncertain about the definition of that word, or you are associated with the Department of Homeland Security or any official law enforcement agency, or if you are a knee-jerk right-winger who believes in magical thinking and that “Black Lives Matter” means you are in greater danger now than you were before police were called out for their unchallenged murder of Black people, please use this convenient link so you know what I mean by “hypothetical.”

O.K. And now for my hypothetical.

Let’s say a lone gunperson assassinates this president. Shoots him dead. I mean, red blood gushing from orange skin with a chunk of dyed-blonde hair flying into Mike Pence’s lap dead. Hypothetical, remember? The gunperson is arrested and stands trial for first-degree murder, as well as whatever other charges that give Attorney General Barr an erection.

The Accused enters a plea of self-defense.

I think that might work. There’s a logical case that can be made for self-defense. Now, I told you this is a hypothetical argument, and if you think my scenario is a good idea, I’ll add that despite the worthiness of that plea it will remain quite likely that the Accused will still get the Needle, if not the firing squad at dawn. But the self-defense argument, if made with precise, calm logic, is understandable. Continue reading “Weird Scenes #096: The Great AMERICAN Virus”

With Further Ado #101: Books for the Beach, Summer Reading

With Further Ado #101: Books for the Beach, Summer Reading

Although I’ve reverted back to being a “Lake Guy” rather than an “Ocean Guy”, after 25+ years sunning myself at the Jersey Shore, I still just love burying my nose in a book on the beach. What could be better?  Here’s a few of my recent favorites:

 

The Fantastic Paintings of Frazetta
By J. David Spurlock
Vanguard Press
Trade HC ISBN13: 9781934331811  $39.95 • 120 pgs
DX LE ISBN13: 9781934331828  $69.95 • 138 pgs plus slipcase

There’s something about paintings and summertime that seem to go together. Is it true that we have more time during the summer and can enjoy art more leisurely?  I always tell myself that. But then again, I always tell myself that an occasional dessert won’t ruin my diet.

Vanguard’s new Frazetta book presents his “greatest hits”, and a few rare ones, in a spectacular format.  They are big and bold, and writer J. David Spurlock provides a virtual cornucopia full of backstories and the behind-the-scenes tales.  It’s a great way for long-time fans to celebrate a favorite or for new fans to get to know a unique American artist.

Continue reading “With Further Ado #101: Books for the Beach, Summer Reading”

New Number Ones: Comics Coming in July 2020

New Number Ones: Comics Coming in July 2020

Welcome back to new month of New Number Ones!!

After a three month break, we are finally able to give you a run down of the new comic series coming in the month of July.

This is where we give our readers a preview of the exciting new comic book series debuting each month. We have compiled an alphabetical list with cover art and the official solicitation text from PREVIEWSworld. Check below for our PCS NOTES to find out what we just have to tell you some more about the new comics in question.

There are a bunch of new series of interest starting in July. Some very familiar titles are coming back, and there are a lot of new series from some of our favorite creators, by a diverse set of publishers. We are very excited to see what they have in store for us.

We hope you will take a look and think about giving these a try. We will bring you reviews of most of these debut issues as they come out, and don’t forget to use the comments section to let us know what you think of this list.

Continue reading “New Number Ones: Comics Coming in July 2020”

Brainiac On Banjo #090: Powers Roughly Equivalent of God’s

Brainiac On Banjo #090: Powers Roughly Equivalent of God’s

Deep in the dark / I don’t need the light / There’s a ghost inside me / It all belongs to the other side / We live, we love, we lie – “The Spectre” written by Gunnar Greve, Jesper Borgen, Tommy Laverdi, Marcus Arnbekk, Anders Froen, Alan Olav Walker, and Lars Kristian Rosness, 2018

The comment expressed in our headline above was made by the fabled Jules Feiffer in his groundbreaking 1965 book The Great Comic Book Heroes. It was groundbreaking because Feiffer was the first to take the history and craft of comic books seriously — so seriously, in fact, that it was excerpted in Playboy.

The Spectre was created by Jerry Siegel, and if truth be told it’s probably my favorite of his creations — including the Big Red S. Feiffer was right: it’s a bitch to write a series where the lead isn’t really a “hero” and yet has, as Jules noted, powers roughly equivalent of God’s. And we’re not talking about the New Testament’s cosmic muffin — this is the Old Testament’s hoary thunderer, and The Spectre is his personal instrument of vengeance. Yup, the after-life might not be as sweet as you’d hoped.

I don’t know if the kids who were reading comics at the every end of 1939 were ready for that. Within two years the series was lightened up by a bumbling guardian angel called “Percival Popp, the Super Cop.” Think Frank Capra, but stupid. The Spectre became a founding member of the Justice Society, but when World War II ended he was out of the group, out of More Fun, and living off of Officer Popp’s police pension.

Still, the character made an impression and when Julie Schwartz was looking for another golden age character to revive after The Flash, Green Lantern, The Atom, and Hawkman, he chose The Spectre. That was odd, but with the arguable exception of Zatanna (or, really, her dad Zatara), The Spectre was the first character he brought back that Julie hadn’t edited during the Golden Age. Despite some decent scripts from Gardner Fox and artwork from the always amazing Murphy Anderson, it just didn’t click. The series was handed over to a relative newcomer named Neal Adams, who did some truly wonderful artwork, but it also did not find success.

But the guy still remained in the hearts of DC’s creative community. Editor Joe Orlando needed a new lead for Adventure Comics, so he brought in Michael Fleisher and Jim Aparo and let them go nuts. The Spectre took this “vengeance of God” thing to a fundamentalist level, and he would kill the bad guys with such creative cruelty that they might have made EC artist “Ghastly” Graham Ingles genuflect at his porcelain throne. It was great. And it lasted 10 issues.

Since then The Spectre has been floating around the DC Universe in all its forms, incarnations, and mistakes. Lots — and I mean lots — of A-listers handled his adventures, including my buddies John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake. They enjoyed one of the longest runs.

So it was with absolutely no surprise whatsoever that I stumbled across a DC Digital First thing called Ghosts. At first I thought that odd — thus far they hadn’t done resurrections of their mystery anthologies in their new digital line. Then I saw “Ghosts” was just another way of saying “The Spectre” and then I noted it was written by Dan Jurgens.

I really like Dan’s work, both as an artist and a writer. We worked together on Green Arrow for a long time, and instead of just leaving the series to do something new, he told me he was making a play to do Superman and, if he got it, he’d be moving on. As much as I liked Dan’s stuff — he and Mike Grell made a great team — he certainly earned the right to take a shot at the Man of Steel. I successfully fought back my overwhelming desire to mindfuck him into staying, although I did think about it. Dan did some remarkable work with the brightest of DC’s corporate jewels. Right now he’s writing Nightwing, and is damn good.

Dan, along with artists Scott Eaton and Wayne Faucher, did a fine job on the story. I don’t know if Ghosts is a one-shot or a play to resurrect The Spectre again, this time without having to resort to paper and staples. They were somewhat restrained in their story… if you compare it to the Fleisher / Aparo run. Then again, a head-on collision between two 10-car passenger trains would seem equally restrained.

DC has done a number of very entertaining stories in their almost-daily Digital First line, unburdened by a continuity that mutates as often as amoebas commit mitosis. Seeing The Spectre pop up in this format evoked a response characters rarely have when they cross his path: I was pleasantly surprised.

New Number Ones for the Week of 6/24/2020: Ash & Thorn, Bleed Them Dry, and Dead Body Road: Bad Blood

New Number Ones for the Week of 6/24/2020: Ash & Thorn, Bleed Them Dry, and Dead Body Road: Bad Blood

Welcome Back to NEW NUMBER ONES!

If you are new here, this column is designed to bring you reviews of new comic book series that came out this week. We will try to focus on independent and original series for the most part. This week we have three books for you. They are from Ahoy Comics, Vault Comics, and Image Comics.

You will usually find the books that we review in this space on our month list of New Number Ones. As the distribution of new comics is still getting underway, expect a monthly look ahead for July’s new series.

The books this week are all introducing massive conflicts that will threaten the status quo of the newly introduced protagonist. Interestingly, all three books feature a female badass protagonist.

This week we will bring you our thoughts on: Ash & Thorn #1, Bleed Them Dry #1, and Dead Body Road: Bad Blood #1

Check out the reviews below in alphabetical order: Continue reading “New Number Ones for the Week of 6/24/2020: Ash & Thorn, Bleed Them Dry, and Dead Body Road: Bad Blood”

Legendary Comic Inker Joe Sinnott Passes Away at 93

Legendary Comic Inker Joe Sinnott Passes Away at 93

The family of Joe Sinnott has announced that the long time comic artist has passed away this morning June 25, 2020. He is a member of the Will Eisner Hall of Fame and is well known for his long run at Marvel Comics starting in 1965.

He is the recipient of multiple industry awards and is well respected among past and current comic professionals. His work on Fantastic Four is often cited as one of his greatest accomplishments, and he was still active into his nineties.

We wish to offer our condolences to his family and friends.