Category: Reviews

Preview Review for the Week of 11/13/2019: Family Tree #1

Preview Review for the Week of 11/13/2019: Family Tree #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 Image Comics. It is Family Tree #1 by Jeff Lemire and Phil Hester with Eric Gapstur, Ryan Cody, and Steve Wands. This book is featured in our New Number Ones column for November. You might want to see what else we are looking forward to there.

You can find Family Tree at your LCS on November 13, 2019. Continue reading “Preview Review for the Week of 11/13/2019: Family Tree #1”

Everything We Read This Week – 11/06/2019

Everything We Read This Week – 11/06/2019

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 were a few books that dealt with either the approach or the results of a worldwide catastrophe. I think that says something about the state of group consciousness. It is one of the reasons that I love comic books and an expression of how comics are representative of the greater society. Go out and find the comics you like, and remember, Read More Comics!!

We reviewed books from DC, Marvel, Dark Horse Comics, Ahoy Comics, Abstract Studio, Berger Books, IDW Publishing, 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 – 11/06/2019”

Spotlight on Girl On Film by Cecil Castellucci – A Review and Interview

Spotlight on Girl On Film by Cecil Castellucci – A Review and Interview

Cecil Castellucci is an incredible artist in the true sense of the word. She began her quest to share art with the world by spending her life studying to be a filmmaker. Ultimately, she has thrived and shared stories with the world through many mediums. She has written Young Adult novels, and graphic novels. She has written for DC Comics and is the current writer on Batgirl. She has fronted a couple of punk rock bands, and also written hockey-based operas, to name a few media.

Most recently, she has written a graphic memoir called Girl on Film that is published by Boom! Studios. We acquired an advanced copy of the book that comes out in comic shops on November 12, 2019 and everywhere else the following week. Let me tell you, it is wonderful, and there is a more detailed review below.

We also reached out to Ms. Castellucci, and she graciously agreed to answer a few questions for us. You can find our interview below the book review. It was a great experience from us and we hope you enjoy it too.

Girl On Film
Boom! Studios / Archia
Written by  Cecil Castellucci
Art by Vicky Leta, Melissa Duffy, V. Gagnon & Jon Berg
Colors by Kieran Quigley & Joana Lafuente
Letters by Mike Fiorentino
Cover Art by Caz Westover

Original Solicitation

One thing young Cecil was sure of from the minute she saw Star Wars was that she was going to be some kind of artiste. Probably a filmmaker. Possibly Steven Spielberg. Then, in 1980, the movie Fame came out. Cecil wasn’t allowed to see that movie. It was rated R, and she was ten. But she did watch the television show and would pretend with her friends that she was going to that school. Of course they were playing. She was not. She was destined to be an art school kid.

Continue reading “Spotlight on Girl On Film by Cecil Castellucci – A Review and Interview”

With Further Ado #067: Gramercy Park

With Further Ado #067: Gramercy Park

Last week in this column, I celebrated Halloween with a look at the latest Yoe Books collection, GHOSTS: Classic Monsters of Pre-Code Horror Comics by Steve Banes. It features a smorgasbord of creepy comics from the 1940s and 1950s.  This week I need to tell you about another treasure, a just-published comic that takes place in the 1940s and 1950s. And in stark contrast to those old comics produced domestically, this a translated European comic. I started out kind of liking it, but by the end I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

Gramercy Park, written by Timothée de Fombelle and illustrated by Christian Cailleaux, is a comic that the rest of the world will definitely feel more comfortable calling a graphic novel. It’s tight and clever, scattering just the right amount narrative breadcrumbs to keep the reader involved. Author de Fombelle mixes intriguing characters and thoughtful dialogue that rope you in. I had planned, in fact, to just read a few pages at a time. But at one point, about halfway through, the creators had me and wouldn’t let me go.  Continue reading “With Further Ado #067: Gramercy Park”

Everything We Read This Week – 10/30/2019

Everything We Read This Week – 10/30/2019

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 was the always interesting fifth Wednesday, and we read a bunch of great comics. One of the little things we noticed is that publishers are doing a better job of crediting the complete creative team on the covers. Hopefully that will also translate into appropriate compensation. Go out and find the comics you like, and remember, Read More Comics!!

We reviewed books from DC, Marvel, Dark Horse Comics, Valiant 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.

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 – 10/30/2019”

New Number Ones: Comics Coming in November 2019

New Number Ones: Comics Coming in November 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 November. There is a good mix of both existing and new characters 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.

Both Marvel and DC are significant represented here which is a change from the past few months. These are not just rebooted number ones either. We are very excited about the creativity being rewarded with new series by all comic publishers.

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 November 2019”

Brainiac On Banjo #058: The Writer That Devoured Cleveland!

“Kick ’em when they’re up / Kick ’em when they’re down / Kick ’em when they’re stiff / Kick ’em all around.”

-Don Henley and Danny Kortchmar, Dirty Laundry

Popular culture is a living thing. It grows like amoebas on Viagra, constantly mutating into new life forms. This gives us an endless supply of new things and new people who create new things. Some of those folks last, others wish they didn’t take out that seven figure mortgage.

Brian Bendis was one of those new forces. He’s defied the odds — to say the least — by being on the comic writer’s A-list for, well, damn, over two decades. That’s quite a feat; but the fact that a dozen newer writers subsequently have joined that same A-list without pushing him off is nothing short of remarkable. He started out with the “independents,” went to Marvel, earned his way into getting screen credit for about a million movies and television shows while creating all sorts of cool characters, and then left the House of Mouse for Kryptonian pastures.

Anybody who can jilt Mickey like that deserves a guest shot on South Park.

I thought he had a slow start on the Man of Steel, but instead of annoying me (which is very easy to do), I was fascinated. He was taking risks and stepping on Superman’s cape — declining to adapt to overworked standards while working with the flow to scrape the barnacles off Superman. Watching that has been an interesting experience. Last week it all come together for this jaded reader.

Action Comics #1016 (whole number, 1016) is all about Superman’s losing his battle with a fairly new villain, the Red Cloud – not to be confused with either of the Red Tornadoes. The Daily Planet’s reporter / gossip columnist Trish Q is on the story, canvassing the neighborhood and interviewing those who saw the conflict. This is and of itself is pretty cool – as far as I can tell, the Daily Planet invented newsroom cutbacks 60 years ago by limiting Perry White’s on-panel staff to Clark Kent, Lois Lane, maybe Jimmy Olsen (who may or may not be the staff photographer who may or may not write stuff), and occasionally Steve Lombard and Cat Grant. Of course, lately Lois has been hiding in a very expensive Chicago hotel, doubtlessly searching for the world’s best Italian beef sammich like the rest of us. Trish is a very interesting character, and I hope she sticks around.

About two-thirds of the story is told through the comments made by Trish’s interview subjects. There’s nothing new about this storytelling technique, and it makes good use of Bendis’s gift for expository dialogue. But it is out-of-the-ordinary to tell the story of Superman’s defeat in battle in such a manner; writers usually focus on the flow of action with dramatic close-ups of the hero’s face being beaten to a pulp. In his “telling-through-interview” style, Brian is showing us the faith the citizenry has in the Man of Steel while avoiding the limp, overworked cliché of the masses turning on their champion for failing to defeat every evil that is foisted upon them.

In other words, this is a story about faith. It’s somewhat subtle, but faith is a subtle thing.

Bendis introduces his creation Naomi to the Justice League, creating another opportunity for him to play a bit with the world’s most psychotic costumed family jewel, the ubiquitous Batman. In the real world, such as it is, Bruce Wayne would be shackled to a wall in Arkham Asylum. In Bendis’s world, Batman is fleshed out a bit around the edges, giving purpose (legitimate or not) to his massive assholery. I’d read the story for this alone.

Much praise has been heaped on Brian Bendis over the past decades, and that, of course, makes him target for terminally obese trolls who dirty their own laundry. That’s how fame works. But if you think this guy didn’t earn his chops or that he’s past his prime, check out Action Comics #1016.

Special thanks to M.G. Krebs for the title to this week’s masterpiece. Brian Michael Bendis, like Jerry Siegel before him, is from Cleveland. To the best of my knowledge, neither are monsters… in the classical sense.

Everything We Read This Week – 10/23/2019

Everything We Read This Week – 10/23/2019

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.

It’s been a while since we brought you a full list of books to this column, but expect to see new comic book reviews in this space going forward. This week we read a bunch of great comics. There was a theme that I noticed as reading the books. There is some amazing work being done by colorists in comics, and this weeks selection of books has some stunning color displays. . Find the comics you like and remember, Read More Comics!!

We reviewed books from DC, Marvel, Action Lab, Valiant Entertainment, Vault Comics, Humanoids, Inc., and Ahoy 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 – 10/23/2019”

Pop Culture Squad was at Baltimore Comic-Con 2019 and it was a BLAST!

Pop Culture Squad was at Baltimore Comic-Con 2019 and it was a BLAST!

The weekend of October 18 – 20, 2019 was the twentieth anniversary celebration of Baltimore Comic-Con. It is consistently one of our favorite conventions of the year. That is a sentiment that is shared by visitors, invited guests, and exhibitors alike.

A consistent refrain you will hear is that it is a “comic book convention that is about comics”. The vendors and guests are heavily weighted toward the comics side of fandom. The show is sponsored by Cards, Comics and Collectibles in Reisterstown, Maryland, and there is a very family-like atmosphere to the event. It is not easy to pull off an event of this magnitude as an independent convention. Marc and Shelly Nathan, the showrunners, put their heart and soul into this weekend, as do all the people who work on planning, logistics, and making sure everyone has a blast.

This is the sixth time that I have attended this convention, and it never disappoints.

Location

The convention was held at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, MD. It is located across the street from Oriole Park at Camden Yards in the heart of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. There is a light rail station across from the Convention Center, and there is also a ton of parking garages in easy walking distance to the event.  The convention partners with Parking Panda to provide easy access to pre-paid parking from its website.

The convention floor was an easy escalator ride down from the main entrance, and the programming panel rooms were one flight up. Continue reading “Pop Culture Squad was at Baltimore Comic-Con 2019 and it was a BLAST!”

With Further Ado #058: Discoveries beyond Discovery

With Further Ado #058: Discoveries beyond Discovery

Back in the day, when we had no idea that the Star Trek mythology would become so expansive, there was always a hint of untold stories about the folks on the Enterprise before Uhura, Scotty and the gang.   We were briefly introduced to Captain Kirk’s predecessor, Captain Pike, and shown the tragic ending to his career.  Little fanboys watching the show via 70s reruns (like me) couldn’t help but wonder what adventures that guy had in the earlier part of his career.

Over the years, I read a few paperback books focusing on Captain Pike. Marvel published a series called Early Voyages (that didn’t really do it for me) and more recently John Byrne took a crack at it again at IDW.

With all that in mind, I was pleasantly surprised by IDW’s new series Star Trek: Discovery – Aftermath. This series spins out of the recent Star Trek Discovery mythology.  As is the case for many longtime fans, this new reboot seemed to have so many troublesome issues for me that I’ve kind of drifted away from it.  Oh, I’m not shaking my fists with fan rage. Like a party that isn’t that great, or meant for me, I found myself slinking out the back door when no one was looking.  Continue reading “With Further Ado #058: Discoveries beyond Discovery”