Category: Reviews

With Further Ado #78: The Uphill Battle of Harken’s Raiders

With Further Ado #78: The Uphill Battle of Harken’s Raiders

As a kid, I wasn’t into war comics, but I sure did love the “war comic for people who hate comics”: Marvel’s Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos.  That was the tagline that Marvel  developed for this offbeat war comic.  (I assume Stan Lee, as both writer and in-house ad agency, wrote that line.)

This series quickly became the print version of a WWII buddy movie.  The Howling Commandos were a special task force, more like Army Rangers than the British commandos, who were dispatched on fantastic, all-odds-against-them missions. The Howling Commandos joked and kidded their way through every adventure.  It all seemed like great fun, and in contrast to real war, downright happy and hilarious.

As we all got older, it was harder to choke down Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos.  We learned about the horrors and atrocities of war, and the meandering silliness of  this comic seemed to trivialize an admittedly awful subject. We could draw the line at glamorizing war, especially when used for macho adventure, but before long, treating it too lightheartedly was verboten.  In fact, in the waning days of the Sgt. Fury series, Marvel began swinging the pendulum in the other direction, most notably with titles like War Is Hell.

Still, there was so much to love about that series. Especially when it really hit its stride with Gary Friedrich scripts, Dick Ayers pencils, and John Severin inks.  Those were gripping, dense and clever comics.  One of my all-time favorite covers depicted on character on his way to a court-martial. Not the standard stuff of war comics.

That was then, and this is now. And I have some good news!  Ron Marz and Darryl Banks have reunited (You will remember them from their groundbreaking Green Lantern series.) to collaborate on a new “war comic”: Harken’s Raiders.

Continue reading “With Further Ado #78: The Uphill Battle of Harken’s Raiders”

Everything We Read This Week – 1/15/2020

Everything We Read This Week – 1/15/2020

Welcome back to Everything We Read This Week. This is the place that we make our weekly trip through this week’s pull-list. It features mostly spoiler-free brief analysis and commentary of each book.

This week we read a so many great comics. There was some amazing storytelling out there this week. We encourage you to go out and find the comics you like, and remember, Read More Comics!!

We reviewed books from DC Comics, Ahoy Comics, Boom! Studios, Valiant Entertainment, Abstract Studios, and Image Comics this week. As always, we hope you might find what we say interesting enough to try some of these comics. Don’t forget we welcome comments on these and any other comics that you read. Feel free to leave a comment and get the conversation moving.

Also, Don’t forget to check our hotlist of new books debuting this month over here. We didn’t have any new series come out this week on our pull list, but next week will be a different story.

And here are the books we read in alphabetical order:

Continue reading “Everything We Read This Week – 1/15/2020”

With Further Ado #077: Descendent by Stephanie Phillips and Bornyakov

With Further Ado #077: Descendent by Stephanie Phillips and Bornyakov

Aftershock is on a roll. They are publishing so many top-notch series.  While there’s no uniform house style or shared universe, they have definitely carved out their own niche. Aftershock titles tend to be a little more adult, a little more edgy. There’s a thriller aspect to many of the series, often mixed in with a sense of dread and of foreboding.

I just read a Ray Bradbury short story, The Playground, this weekend. It had been years since I read Bradbury, and I kind of forgot how much I enjoyed his work.  It’s a bit of a stretch, but one could argue that many of the Aftershock series have Bradbury baked into their DNA.

Descendent by Stephanie Phillips is another winner, but I might argue it owes more to Brad Meltzer than to Bradbury.  Comics fans might remember him from his DC work on Identity Crisis a few years ago, but the rest of the world knows him as a thriller author.  My favorite books of his entwine a mix of political intrigue and unsolved mysteries.

(There’s a bit of Harlan Coben in this comic too -and that’s high praise indeed from me. I think Coben is just fantastic.)

Descendent tells of a sinister conspiracy, dating back to the Lindbergh kidnapping, and then reveals a tale that is even creepier and more complicated.  The gradual peeling of the onion follows the characters  as they get in deeper and deeper. And as the reader, we’re always either just one step ahead or one step behind.  Continue reading “With Further Ado #077: Descendent by Stephanie Phillips and Bornyakov”

Everything We Read This Week – 1/8/2020

Everything We Read This Week – 1/8/2020

Welcome back to Everything We Read This Week. This is the place that we make our weekly trip through this week’s pull-list. It features mostly spoiler-free brief analysis and commentary of each book.

This week we read a so many great comics. There was some amazing storytelling out there this week. We encourage you to go out and find the comics you like, and remember, Read More Comics!!

We reviewed books from DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Ahoy Comics, Aftershock Comics, IDW Publishing, Dynamite Entertainment, Vault Comics, and Image Comics this week. As always, we hope you might find what we say interesting enough to try some of these comics. Don’t forget we welcome comments on these and any other comics that you read. Feel free to leave a comment and get the conversation moving.

Also, Don’t forget to check our hotlist of new books debuting this month over here. You will see books that we were looking forward to with the designation Hot #1 by them. There are a few of them out this week, and they are really good.

And here are the books we read in alphabetical order:

Continue reading “Everything We Read This Week – 1/8/2020”

New Number Ones For the Week of 1/8/2020

New Number Ones For the Week of 1/8/2020

Hey There Folks!! 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. Despite that intent, this first week is light on new series and we have two Marvel Comics series for you along with a new book each from DC Comics / Hill HouseScout Comics, and Top Cow / Image Comics.

You will usually find the books that we review in this space on our month list of New Number Ones. You might want to check over there to see what you can expect for the rest of the month.

This week we will bring you our thoughts on four books: The Clock #1, Daphne Byrne #1, Marvels X #1, Star #1, and White Ash #1

Check out the reviews below in alphabetical order: Continue reading “New Number Ones For the Week of 1/8/2020”

New Number Ones For the Week of 1/1/2020

New Number Ones For the Week of 1/1/2020

Hey There Folks!! 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. Despite that intent, this first week is light on new series and we have three Marvel Comics series for you along with a new book from IDW Publishing.

You will usually find the books that we review in this space on our month list of New Number Ones. You might want to check over there to see what you can expect for the rest of the month.

This week we will bring you our thoughts on four books: Hawkeye: Freefall #1, I Can Sell You a Body #1, Star Wars #1, and Thor #1

Check out the reviews below in alphabetical order: Continue reading “New Number Ones For the Week of 1/1/2020”

With Further Ado #072: The Unrelenting Coolness of Dean Haspiel and Red Hook

With Further Ado #072: The Unrelenting Coolness of Dean Haspiel and Red Hook

Dean Haspiel is a certain kind of artist. When you read his work, you can’t help but like what he’s doing.  And then the more you learn about him, you can’t help but admire who he is, what he’s doing and why he’s doing it.  It’s inevitable that you want to learn more about his focus and his work. 

There’s no denying that he’s a cool cat. That’s part of it, but only part. He’s also a passionate believer. He’s the type of guy that’s fighting the good fight.  It’s easy to picture him getting into arena each day, doing his best, and then repeating that the very next day.  His purposeful work ethic and big dreams shine through every page of his work.  Continue reading “With Further Ado #072: The Unrelenting Coolness of Dean Haspiel and Red Hook”

Everything We Read This Week – 12/4/2019

Everything We Read This Week – 12/4/2019

Welcome back to Everything We Read This Week. This is the place that we make our weekly trip through this week’s pull-list. It features mostly spoiler-free brief analysis and commentary of each book.

This week we read a bunch of great comics. There was some amazing storytelling out there this week. We encourage you to go out and find the comics you like, and remember, Read More Comics!!

We reviewed books from DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Archie Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Humanoids, Inc. and Image Comics this week. As always, we hope you might find what we say interesting enough to try some of these comics. Don’t forget we welcome comments on these and any other comics that you read. Feel free to leave a comment and get the conversation moving.

Also, Don’t forget to check our hotlist of new books debuting this month over here. You will see books that we were looking forward to with the designation Hot #1 by them. There are a few of them out this week, and they are really good.

DISCLAIMER: 

There is a 4 star rating system. It is simple and not to be taken too seriously as everyone gets their own impressions of art. These ratings are just to give our readers an idea of what we thought of the book, and they will be on the generous side normally. So don’t expect to see a lot of 1 Stars. After all, it’s not often that you have a bad book on your pull-list.

The rating system is as follows:

Great

 Good

 OK

 Not Good

 

And here are the books we read in alphabetical order:

Continue reading “Everything We Read This Week – 12/4/2019”

New Number Ones: Comics Coming in December 2019

New Number Ones: Comics Coming in December 2019

Welcome back to New Number Ones!!

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 is a bunch of new series of interest starting in December. There is a good mix of both existing properties and new concepts featured in these books. Below you will find a slate of new books from a wide variety of publishers. Some of our favorite comic book talents are bringing us some of these new series.

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 December 2019”

Preview Review for the Week of 11/13/2019: Vampironica: New Blood #1

Preview Review for the Week of 11/13/2019: Vampironica: New Blood #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.

A reminder for you. 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 a new book from Archie Comics. It is Vampironica: New Blood #1 by Frank Tieri & Michael Moreci and Audrey Mok with Matt Herms and Jack Morelli. This book will be featured in our New Number Ones column for December. You might want to see what else we are looking forward to there.

You can find Vampironica at your LCS on December 4, 2019.

Vampironica: New Blood #1
Archie Comics
Written by Frank Tieri & Michael Moreci
Art by Audrey Mok
Colors by Matt Herms
Letters by Jack Morelli
Cover Art by Mok

Original Solicitation:

BRAND NEW SERIES! Riverdale’s own bombshell bloodsucker is back! Following the events of the Jughead the Hunger vs. Vampironica crossover, Veronica returns to her own universe, still a vampire. She’s not the same, and she knows it. And now she needs answers. But she may not be ready for what she’s about to discover!

PCS Review:

This is an excellent introduction to this series. Having never read anything in the Archie Horror world, this story was easily accessible to me. It does not explain everything that came before, but give just enough to let the reader know where the protagonist has been and the challenges she faces.

The pace and dialogue through the narrative is brisk and relatable. Tieri and Moreci do an excellent job in this first issue of presenting characters with depth and a conflict that is interesting. There are plenty of plot lines that are organically uncovered that give the story several paths to travel.

Audrey Mok’s line art is beautiful. She grabs the reader’s eye and leads it on an exciting journey through this book. Her panel designs and camera positioning are perfect for the pacing of the narrative. The style feels like it is just the right amount of rough edge to make it feel like a horror book, but still a Veronica Hodge story.

Matt Herms’ colors are sublime. The overall color theme is important to the feel of the book. His work is well thought out and expertly implemented. The lettering job by Jack Morelli should not be overlooked. The word art is truly excellent, but managing the amount of dialogue and the bubble placement is impressive.

Overall, we highly recommend this comic. It is a fun and exciting book with engaging characters and beautiful artwork.