Category: Reviews

Brainiac On Banjo: Mad Archie of the North Star?

Brainiac On Banjo: Mad Archie of the North Star?

Given current population statistics, if you live in a comic book, and you do not happen to be a Green Lantern or a Flash, chances are you are a Hulk or a Spider-Person. Add the Batman, Shazam and X-Men families, and the odds are overwhelming you belong to a personality cult.

Or… you can be an Archie. There’s a lot of them, too. Forget about the teevee show — forget about all of these characters media madness; I’m only talking about comic books here. Action Comics #1051, which dropped last week, gave us the bird’s eye lowdown on the 21st Century-of-the-week Superman family: there’s now about a million characters with the big S on their chests. The words “unique” and “special” have been replaced, as far as comics are concerned, with “redundant” and, stripped of that which makes these chapters distinctive, “boring.”

Except for Archie. There’s only one Archie, but he and his supporting cast members exist simultaneously in at least a dozen different forms. Amusingly, the creators manage to keep these varieties both unique and interesting. For example, we’ve had the New Look Archie, the married Archie (to both Betty and to Veronica, but separately — for better or worse), the Archie(s) that are more or less in the vein of the Riverdale teevee show, the Archie horror line stocked full of vampires, werewolves and other Universal movie ex-pats, and the Archies from both previous as well as future eras. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Mad Archie of the North Star?”

Preview Reviews for 1/25/23: Archie VS The World #1 & Bulls of Beacon Hill #1

Preview Reviews for 1/25/23: Archie VS The World #1 & Bulls of Beacon Hill #1

Welcome to the latest installment of Preview Reviews.

This week we have a couple of New Number Ones for you. We were able to review Archie VS The World #1 from Archie Comics and Bulls of Beacon Hill #1 from AfterShock Comics.

You can find this book at your LCS or wherever you buy books on January 25, 2023.

Also the rest of the #NewNumberOnes for January are here.


Archie VS The World #1
Archie Comics
Written by Aubrey Sitterson
Art by Jed Dougherty
Colors by Matt Herms & Doug Garbark
Letters by Jack Morelli
Cover Art by Dougherty

Original Solicitation:

In a post-apocalyptic future, our hero Archie Andrews is cursed to walk the world alone-well, alone with his souped-up jalopy. But Archie can defend himself-in fact, he’s the master of a brutal, deadly form of martial arts and must use his skills when he comes face-to-face with his rival and evil mirror image, Reggie. This action-packed one-shot is equal parts Mad Max: Fury Road and The Fist of the North Star, and reunites the Jughead the Burgarian team from 2022’s smash-hit comic THE BEST ARCHIE COMIC EVER!

PCS Review: Continue reading “Preview Reviews for 1/25/23: Archie VS The World #1 & Bulls of Beacon Hill #1”

With Further Ado #233: Cheesy, Cheap & Charming – The Silver Surfer in a 1962 Charlton Comic

With Further Ado #233: Cheesy, Cheap & Charming – The Silver Surfer in a 1962 Charlton Comic

I recently rescued another treasure from a bargain box. It is Space Adventures #44 (Feb. 1962). It’s published by Charlton Comics. They always seemed to be a B-level (at best) publisher, but that doesn’t mean that some of my very favorite comics weren’t published by Charlton. In many ways, this issue is typical of Charlton – cheesy, cheap and charming!

(I’m really looking forward to reading Charlton Companion by Jon B. Cooke, in fact. Cooke is an outstanding historian and author. You can never go wrong reading anything he writes.)

Judging a Book by Its Cover

The cover copy above the logo proclaims that this issue of Space Adventures is “New! Different!”, but that might be an overstatement. From the vantage point of 60 years later, it almost seems like it should be magically changed to read “Nostalgic! Predictable!”

The cover features repurposed artwork from two interior stories. The heroic figure, “The Mercury Man” is miscolored, unfortunately. Come to think of it, the scary looking aliens are miscolored too. Continue reading “With Further Ado #233: Cheesy, Cheap & Charming – The Silver Surfer in a 1962 Charlton Comic”

Preview Review for the Week of 1/18/2023: Barbaric – Hell to Pay #1

Preview Review for the Week of 1/18/2023: Barbaric – Hell to Pay #1

Welcome to the latest installment of Preview Reviews.

This week we have a great book for you. We were able to review Barbaric: Hell to Pay #1 from Vault Comics.

You can find this book at your LCS or wherever you buy books on January 18, 2023.

Also the rest of the #NewNumberOnes for January are here.


Barbaric: Hell to Pay #1
Vault Comics
Written by Michael Moreci
Art by Nathan Gooden
Colors by Addison Duke
Letters by Jim Campbell
Cover Art by Gooden & Duke

Original Solicitation: 

Barbaric is back and headed straight to hell in an all-new arc so big and bloody, it’s getting an extra issue!

While Owen tames a dragon with an old friend, Soren and Steel cross paths with someone else from our cursed barbarian’s past…who isn’t looking nearly as friendly. Hell hath no fury like a woman stabbed through the heart by an ugly f***ing orc.

Oh, wait! Who’s carrying Axe?

PCS Review:

Hell Yeah! The Axe is Back! Listen, we love this property. This is the start of the third main arc. I think there were a couple of one-shots thrown in. If all out carnage and mayhem are things you enjoy, you will love this book. If humanity and exploring the meaning of regret, companionship, and honor are what you like to see in comics, this is the book for you.

Michael Moreci, Nathan Gooden, et al. have crafted a crazy story about a barbarous axe and the beings that surround it that just brings all kinds of emotions with it. This latest issue jumps the protagonists a few steps from where the last arc ended and ups the ante in terms of the peril that they find themselves in.

Nathan Gooden and Addison Duke work some masterful images to evoke strong emotional beats while also bringing the gore. Gooden’s panel layouts are particularly interesting and important to the flow of the story. Jim Campbell has been slaying on Barbaric from the start and keeps the high quality lettering coming in this issue.

If you are looking for a fun comic that will subtly draw you in emotionally, don’t miss this book.

 

 

Advanced Preview of Fear of a Red Planet #2 from AfterShock Comics

Advanced Preview of Fear of a Red Planet #2 from AfterShock Comics

The second issue of Fear of a Red Planet written by Mark Sable with art by Andrea Olimpieri comes out this coming Wednesday January 18, 2023 to comic shops and other online outlets. We were able to get a sneak peak at the first few pages of issue two and wanted to share them with you.

We really enjoyed issue one of this book. We have been eagerly awaiting this second issue, and we can tell from this preview that our patience is about to be rewarded. If you are interested in sci-fi murder mysteries, this is the book for you.


Fear of a Red Planet #2
AfterShock Comics
Written by Mark Sable
Art by Andrea Olimpieri
Colors by Olimpierei
Letters by Dave Sharpe
Cover art by Paul Azaceta

Fifty years from now, Mars has experienced its first murder. The earth-based corporation in charge of the mining colony treats its Martian employees like indentured servants, and now their overseer is dead by unknown hands.
Continue reading “Advanced Preview of Fear of a Red Planet #2 from AfterShock Comics”

Rapid Reviews for the Week of 1/11/2023

Rapid Reviews for the Week of 1/11/2023

Welcome to our first Rapid Reviews column of 2023.

This week we have a bunch of middle issues to discuss. While we did include one New Number One and one concluding issue, the middle issues of comic arcs and series are often overlooked.  These books are really well done and definitely belong in your pull list.

Our reviews are spoiler free and focus on the positive aspects of comic storytelling in each issue. You can find all of these books at your Local Comic Shop now or wherever you get your comics.


All Against All #2
Image Comics
Written by Alex Paknadel
Art by Caspar Wijngaard
Colors by Wijngaard
Letters by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Cover Art by Wijngaard

The first issue of this comic was excellent. This second issue is better. The sides of the conflict that is rapidly escalating are clearly delineated in this issue. The defining feeling of this issue is the anxiety of the primary narrator B’Tay. Paknadel, Wijngaard, and Otsmane-Elhaou all combine to use their extensive skills to pass that uneasiness and anticipation on to the reader with this extraordinarily tense comic. It is beautiful, terrifying, and sad all at once. This book is a must pull.


Billionaire Island: Cult of Dogs #3
Ahoy Comics
Written by Mark Russell
Art by Steve Pugh
Colors by Chris Chuckry
Letters by Rob Steen
Cover Art by Pugh

This is a thoroughly entertaining comic. There are two complementary stories on display, and the techniques used to tell them clearly and effectively are brilliantly executed by Russell and Pugh. The rising tension in the main story has this reader completely engaged in this series. Pugh does wonderful job with high quality visual storytelling and Russell’s socio-economic commentary finds its customary place behind a thin veil in a post-apocalyptic storyline. Well done all around. Continue reading “Rapid Reviews for the Week of 1/11/2023”

With Further Ado #232: Ms. Tree – Success Is No Mystery

With Further Ado #232: Ms. Tree – Success Is No Mystery

I never grew out of Superheroes, but I did grow into detective fiction. I’m not sure when it was (maybe middle school?), but mysteries and detective stories were my favorite literary genre. And while I’ve always been all in on comics, there was never an overwhelming amount of traditional detective/mystery/private eye comics.

Oh, there were a few that pulled me in, and I enjoyed them all. I particularly remember Mike W. Barr’s Maze Agency, Jonni Thunder and those Jason Bard back-up stories in (appropriately) Detective Comics. And the long running Ms. Tree was also always a favorite.

This character, and series, were created by two folks who would become favorites of mine. Max Allan Collins is a Mystery Writers of America 2017 Grand Master ‘Edgar’ winner, although I knew him better as the Dick Tracy writer and the guy behind the Nate Heller novels. Terry Beatty is a fantastic artist and today many folks know him as the inker of the Eisner Award-Winning Batman and Robin Adventures series and the World’s Finest graphic novel. Continue reading “With Further Ado #232: Ms. Tree – Success Is No Mystery”

Year in Review 2022: The Best Ongoing Comics of the Year

Year in Review 2022: The Best Ongoing Comics of the Year

We are back with one more “Best of” list. I know, I said that I am not a fan, but once I got to looking at all the great comics that came out this year, I felt that I had to celebrate some of the comics that didn’t have New Number Ones in 2022.

This list is group of books that debuted before 2022 and continued well into the year or throughout it completely. It is much harder to do a list like this in today’s world. Books from the “Big 2” are rebooted often with new number ones just because the creative team changes, and Indie books are often only giving one trade paperback worth of leash to prove themselves.

Despite those tough odds, I found ten books that started pre-2022 that have been delivering high quality comic story telling on a consistent basis. A couple of them have reached their end, but still had enough length for me to consider them ongoing.

I recognize that this list is a bit DC heavy, and that bothers me slightly, but I stand by the books on this list being at the top of the industry in terms of execution over the course of the year.

Best Ongoing Series 2022

Action Comics
DC Comics
Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Artists: Riccardo Federici, Mike Perkins, Lee Loughridge, Will Conrad, David Lapham, Adriana Melo, and more.
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Cover: Daniel Sampere & Alejandro Sa`nchez

PCS Notes: The Warworld Saga came to completion this year and Phillip Kennedy Johnson along with some amazing artists told a story about struggle and survival. Throughout the story Superman fought for the beings that needed him, and exemplified all the traits that make him a hero. Some of the best long form Superman storytelling in a long time. Continue reading “Year in Review 2022: The Best Ongoing Comics of the Year”

Year in Review 2022: The Best New Comics and OGNs of the Year

Year in Review 2022: The Best New Comics and OGNs of the Year

It is the end of the year, and that means “Best of the Year” lists. I hate year-end “Best of” lists. They are never accurate and invariably are the cause of consternation for someone.

If you have read my columns, you know that I don’t disparage people’s work in public. I have read some very bad comics this year. Some were poorly conceived. Some were poorly executed, but I won’t talk about them on this site. Our goal here is to celebrate what is excellent.

With that being said, I have spent some time coming up with some of the best things that I read this year. I read a LOT of comics, but not all of them. I can only talk about what I read; so, that is the caveat when reading the lists below. These are the things based on what I read.

There were hundreds of new comic series that premiered in 2022. Many of them were good. Some were excellent. Below, you will find some things that I recommend checking out.

Top 10Honorable MentionsOGNs

Top 10 Best New Series

As I mentioned, there were a lot of new series to hit stands this year. I couldn’t read them all, but these two list of the Top 10 and Honorable Mentions are worth a read if you haven’t seen them. Also, they are in alphabetical order. You are asking a lot to get me to give a Top 10. I won’t rank them further. Continue reading “Year in Review 2022: The Best New Comics and OGNs of the Year”

With Further Ado #230: Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

With Further Ado #230: Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

Just like you (probably) did, I bought a few things for myself during the recent Yuletide Season. There’s this one antique shop that has old comic books on sale from time to time. Generally, they are wildly mispriced, but every once in a while you can find a treasure. And hey, who am I to say what’s the “real price” on any particular old comic? I’ll leave that to J.C. Vaughn, the guiding force behind Gemstone’s annual Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide.

Let’s focus a bit on romance comics. When I was a kid, we drew imaginary lines in the imaginary sand, and would never buy or read “girls’ comics”. Forget it! We were men.

[Except when we went to the Orthodontist. They had tons of Archie comics in the waiting rooms. (Back then, Archie offered an incredible subscription program to dentists’ offices). Somehow, we could shoehorn that exception into our rigid sense of self and burgeoning masculinity.]

Fast forward to today: I am always eager to snag a vintage romance comic! There are so many unexpected delights packed into each one. You never know if you’ll stumble across spectacular art (I’m a nut for Jay Scott Pike), oddball stories, or totally antiquated relationship advice to laugh at with my wife. Continue reading “With Further Ado #230: Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places”