Category: Reviews

TerrifiCon 2021 Was Fantastic

TerrifiCon 2021 Was Fantastic

Well, Convention season has returned. Following a year and a half of postponements, cancellations, and online approximations, there are actual in-person comic and entertainment conventions popping up all along the calendar. Vendors, creators, entertainers, and fans are attempting to return to a semblance of normalcy.  This past weekend, we went to the middle of the woods in Connecticut to attend TerrifiCon, and it was a welcome experience.

Mitch Hallock had a diverse and robust lineup of comic pros, toy and comic vendors, celebrities, and a nice artist’s alley. This was my second time at TerrifiCon, and like before, this show is in a single large hall. It was well set up to maximize the aisles widths and people flow. Overall the physical layout of the show was well done.

I do find it interesting how the lines and locations of certain “high-traffic” guest get modified between Friday and Saturday. This is not a knock on this show; it happens everywhere. Inevitably, there is some guest that draws a more than expected number of fans, and they need to be moved to an area that can handle the traffic. Often there are unexpected last-minute cancellations that help provide the space to let everyone enjoy the show with the least amount of congestion.

Is It Safe To Go Back To Cons?

Alright, let’s get to the big questions. How was the Covid-19 protection at the show? Were people wearing masks and social distancing? Is that possible at comic con? I have to say that I was impressed. There was a large segment of the fan base that were wearing facemasks. If I had to guess, I would say about half of the attendees. Keep in mind, there was no mask state requirement, and Connecticut is a state with high vaccination rates and low current infection rates. The show did request that all unvaccinated attendees to wear face coverings. Along with those positives in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, there was a sense of responsibility among the guests and patrons. Continue reading “TerrifiCon 2021 Was Fantastic”

With Further Ado #154:  En Garde!

With Further Ado #154: En Garde!

 When I was in a college freshman, it was mandated we take two gym classes.  I wanted to try something I had never tried before, so I signed up for fencing.  There was an Olympic fencer from my hometown who was a bit of a local celebrity, but the real reason I was interested in fencing was because I loved movie swordfights.

As a freshman in that class, we learned the basics for the first four weeks.  We studied and practiced lunges and parries and all that stuff.  Soon it was time to actually fence against another person.   Within seconds, I forgot everything I had been learning and it all reverted to any other backyard swordfight.  I relied 100%  on those summer days when my brother and I would swish sticks in the backyard and say things like “ah-hah!”   Needless to say, I was not invited onto the fencing team.

But… in the spirit of those summer swordfights, let’s review some comics!

The Fox So Cunning and Free

American Mythology is a new publisher, just celebrating its 5th anniversary. One of the licenses they have acquired is Zorro, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

The Mark of Zorro : 100 Years of the Masked Avenger is an impressive coffee table book celebrating this long-lived hero’s many incarnations.  James Kuhoric and Jason Ullmeyer have assembled a collection of amazing images from every Zorro adventure – all the books, pulps, movies, cartoons and comics. It’s heavy on imagery and light on text, so it is a quintessential ‘flip through” book.

Comics creators Matt Wagner and the legendary Don McGregor (who created my favorite version of Zorro) supply the introduction and forward respectively to make the proceedings all the more special.

D’Artagnan Returns

Seven Swords is a new comic series from another “new” publisher, AfterShock Comics. They’ve been putting out so many titles they don’t seem new anymore to me, though. Seven Swords is written by Revan Daughtery and the art is provided by Riccardo Latina.  This new series focuses on a middle aged D’Artagnan, who you will remember from Dumas’ classic The Three Musketeers. In this story, however, the Three Musketeers are offstage, and D’Artagnan seeks to avenge them by recruiting a new team . He goes all-in Magnificent Seven style.

Latina, an Italian artist who is new to me, employs a classic style that suits the material, but he leverages a sense of dynamic movement, so it never looks dated.

A Look Back at an Invincible Sword

Recently, Back Issue Magazine shined the spotlight on Conan, the Barbarian. One of the articles reviewed all the ‘other’ barbarian characters from the Bronze Age, and I was fascinated by Dagar, the Invincible.  A Gold Key/Western “Sword and Sandals” character, Dagar was created by Don Glut and Jesse Santos. Wonderful painted covers graced each issue, many may have been painted by George Wilson. I would have ignored this series as a kid, but lately I have I been scouring back issue bargain boxes for it.  Glut is an imaginative and clever writer, and able to pack so much into one-and-done single story issues.

Santos, part of the wave of brilliant Filipino artists who illustrated 70s comics, is simply fantastic.

The layouts, anatomy and inking are all inspiring.  All of Santo’s barbarian women look like they walked off the set of a 1969 Hollywood movie, but that’s not so bad.

Of note if you want to join me in the noble quest of collecting Dagar:  he didn’t really have his own title. It was officially Tales of Swords and Sorcery featuring Dagar the Invincible.


“Don’t leave home without your sword- your intellect.”

-Alan Moore

With Further Ado #152: Out of Body from AfterShock Comics is a Different Kind of Murder Mystery.

With Further Ado #152: Out of Body from AfterShock Comics is a Different Kind of Murder Mystery.

D.O.A. is one of those film noir movies that grabs you by the throat and doesn’t ever let you forget it. Like many noirs, it uses flashback to kick things off. At the outset, we’re introduced to Edmund O’Brien who staggers into a police station to announce his own murder.  The basic premise is this: he’s been poisoned, and he has only hours to catch his murderer before he dies. Talk about motivation!

One of AfterShock Comics‘ latest series, Out of Body reminded me of the thrills of that classic. But it offers a whole lot more.   In this one, Dan Collins wakes to find he’s on life support in a hospital, and he has to solve the mystery of how he got there and who did it to him.

Peter Milligan, the creator and writer, is an established pro with a long list of favorites I’ve enjoyed over the years.  Not content to rest on his laurels, I’m amazed how fresh and clever this series is. He’s the type of writer that convinces you he has an infinite number of stories to tell, and that each one will be a step up from the last one that was your favorite.  It’s surprising but it shouldn’t be; he’s created another favorite.

I first became a fan of artist Inaki Miranda with Vertigo’s Coffin Hill a little less than a decade ago. He’s an engaging artist with a solid sense of storytelling. Miranda’s creating so much outstanding artwork lately, but it never seems rushed or hurried. Continue reading “With Further Ado #152: Out of Body from AfterShock Comics is a Different Kind of Murder Mystery.”

With Further Ado #151: The Nostalgic Joy of Summer

With Further Ado #151: The Nostalgic Joy of Summer

On those long summer days in the early ’70s, reading comics was so much fun because, in part, I didn’t know much about comics.  I was right at the starting line, ready to sprint into it all.  The world that comics cracked the door open to was endless and endlessly fascinating.  There was so much to learn about the characters, about publishing history, about creators. I wanted to know it all: the past, the present, and the future – those coming attractions of what was just around the corner.

Paradoxically, it’s kind of a shame that now I know a lot of comics history. Maybe you do too. I can’t help but pick up a copy of an old Fantastic Four, for instance, and think about the conflicts and struggles of the creators. In those glorious summer days of yore, oblivious to the backstories of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Martin Goodman, etc., I would just frantically devour the comic and worry, “How the heck will the FF would defeat Dr. Doom this time?”

I just bought a brand-new comic. Marvel Double Action #1 is part of a Marvel event called Heroes Reborn.  Although the nomenclature is recycled from a reboot I’m happy to forget about, this event focuses on an alternate reality where the Avengers never existed.

The Most Fun Batman Adventure this Month

In this slightly “off” reality,  Nighthawk is essentially Batman. He has the all the Batman tropes – his own cave, his custom car, his own “batarang”.   Creators Tim Seeley, Dan Jurgens, Scott Hanna, Chris Sotomayor, and Cory Petit have created clever new riffs. In this version, the hero’s career in national politics has replaced the millionaire philanthropist angle. There’s a whiff of Bridgerton in it too. The interracial cast interacts without all the angst and tensions that so often accompany race relations in the real world and the fictional world. How refreshing, right? Continue reading “With Further Ado #151: The Nostalgic Joy of Summer”

Reviews: New Number Ones for the Week of 6/2/2021 – Basilisk #1, The Nice House on the Lake #1, Out of Body #1, and The Worst Dudes #1

Reviews: New Number Ones for the Week of 6/2/2021 – Basilisk #1, The Nice House on the Lake #1, Out of Body #1, and The Worst Dudes #1

It has been a while since we did one of these, but 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 four books for you. They are from DC Comics, AfterShock Comics, Dark Horse Comics and Boom! Studios.

You will usually find the books that we review in this space on our month list of New Number Ones.

Three of the books that we reviewed have heavy conflicts with somber moods and one is a hilariously entertaining romp.

This week we will bring you our thoughts on: Basilisk #1, The Nice House on the Lake #1, Out of Body #1, and The Worst Dudes #1

Check out the reviews below in alphabetical order:

Basilisk #1
Boom! Studios
Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Jonas Scharf
Colors by Alex Guimarães
Letters by Ed Dukeshire
Cover Art by Scharf

9.03

This book is excellent. The entire creative team lends wonderful craftsmanship to the completed work. The pacing of the beginning pages sets a foreboding mood and the colors marry perfectly with the tone of the line art. There is not a lot of dialogue but Ed Dukeshire does a great job laying it out. Cullen Bunn crafts an interesting premise in this first issue that portends an epic supernatural conflict in the coming issues. We are looking forward to more.


The Nice House on the Lake #1
DC Comics / Black Label
Written by James Tynion IV
Art by Álvaro Martínez Bueno
Colors by Jordie Bellaire
Letters by Andworld Design
Cover Art by Martínez Bueno

9.35

James Tynion has done it again. This book is gripping. There is an opening sequence that sets the stage for this book, but we were sucked into the backstory that occupies the majority of the book, and it is captivating. This is a super dense first issue, but it flows nicely. The art is simply gorgeous, and Jordie Bellaire’s colors are sublime. The story is paced so well, and the end of the book raises the stakes to a level that belies the innocuous narrative that makes up the middle section of the book. We are on the edge of our seat waiting for the next issue.


Out of Body #1
AfterShock Comics
Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Inaki Miranda
Colors by Eva De La Cruz
Letters by Sal Cipriano
Cover Art by Miranda

9.00

This is book is haunting in multiple ways. Peter Milligan is again developing an intriguing supernatural mystery. The point of view shifts between two primary characters as they interact on the fringe of each other’s existence, and that technique is executed marvelously. Inaki Miranda’s linework is wonderful, particularly the facial acting. The colors by Eva De La Cruz are nothing short of spectacular, and Sal Cipriano’s lettering is critical to maintaining the reader’s focus through the multiple scene and point of view changes. Well done all around.


The Worst Dudes #1
Dark Horse Comics
Written by Aubrey Sitterson
Art by Tony Gregori
Colors by Lovern Kindzierski
Letters by Taylor Esposito
Cover Art by Gregori & Kindzierski

8.35

This book is a raucous romp. It is a completely different mood from the other books on this list. While Aubrey Sitterson is developing an interesting narrative, the story is full of outrageous and edgy imagery. The book is a fun space adventure. The innovative character designs by Tony Gregori are well crafted. The bright and iridescent colors that Lovern Kindzierski uses let you know not to take this too seriously and fit the tone of the book. Taylor Esposito’s letters are a wonderful addition to the book. A very enjoyable read.


DISCLAIMER: 

We use a 4 star rating system. It is simple and not to be taken too seriously. Everyone has 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
  •  No
Brainiac On Banjo #108: The Purple Zombie! – Women’s History Month

Brainiac On Banjo #108: The Purple Zombie! – Women’s History Month

Thanks to several decades of following Trina Robbins’ research, I’ve been a Tarpé Mills fan since… well, probably since dinosaurs started making oil.

Mills is best known as the creator/writer/artist of the costumed newspaper comic strip hero Miss Fury (1941 – 1949), which, for the record, debuted six months before Wonder Woman. But prior to that, she worked for a variety of neophyte comic book publishers, creating such features as Diana Deane / White Goddess (1936), Devil’s Dust, The Cat Man, Daredevil Barry Finn (1939), and The Purple Zombie (1940). It is this latter creation that now brings my fingers to the keyboard.

In addition to my affection for Mills’ work, I have a serious thing for stories that are insanely weird and bizarre. The Purple Zombie was so weird it makes Herbie The Fat Fury look like Mark Trail.

Here’s the short version: a pair of scientists come up with a way to create zombies, but one is an evil scientist and the other wants it to be used for the betterment of humanity. Zombies For Peace! Right on! The bad guy does not kill the good guy, although he does try. He gets killed in the process and P.Z. divines the good guy as his master. So, the good guy drafts P.Z. into joining the 1940 anti-fascist movement which, at the time, was pretty much limited to fighting Nazis and the Spanish civil war. By the way, in Spain the American antifa was called “The Abraham Lincoln Brigade.” Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #108: The Purple Zombie! – Women’s History Month”

Preview Review for the Week of 2/10/2021

Preview Review for the Week of 2/10/2021

Welcome to the latest installment of Preview Reviews.

This week we have two new number ones to review for you. The first is Orcs from the Kaboom imprint of Boom! Studios, and the other is Radiant Black from Image Comics.

You can find these books at your LCS on February 10, 2021.


Orcs #1
Boom! Studios
Written by Christine Larsen
Art by Larsen
Colors by Larsen & H.E. Gregory (Flats)
Letters by Larsen
Cover Art by Larsen

Original Solicitation:

For fans of The Adventure Zone and Critical Role, meet Bog and his misfit crew of Orcs as they adventure through the Known World courtesy of acclaimed cartoonist Christine Larsen.

After being banished from their Orcish village by King Hrograhgah (it was a simple misunderstanding, involving an acorn-related prank!), Bog and his crew venture out into the world to seek their fortune, and hopefully find their way back home again.

Tag along with Bog, Zep, Pez, Utzu and Gurh as they venture through the dreaded Eerieasallhel Forest, face off against Trolls, Gnomes, squirrels and more, and follow in the footsteps of the legendary Orc hero, Drod One-Eye!

Every issue of Orcs! is oversized, featuring more than 30 story pages.

PCS Review:

This book met all of our expectations. It is a fun, fast moving romp with plenty of twists and turns. Christine Larsen uses some interesting framing techniques in storytelling to keep the reader engaged in the the affairs of the interesting characters that she has created.

The visual aspect to the narrative is well-paced and creatively laid out. The use of color to hit thematic story tones is spot on.  This book is really a visual treat.

Overall, this comic is entertaining and enjoyable, while doing a great job in building an intriguing story. We are certainly looking forward to the next issue.


Radiant Black #1
Image Comics
Written by Kyle Higgins
Art by Marcelo Costa
Letters by Becca Carey
Cover Art by Michael Cho

Original Solicitation:

For fans of INVINCIBLE and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comes a brand-new ONGOING SERIES from acclaimed writer KYLE HIGGINS and artist MARCELO COSTA that reinvents superheroes for a new generation!

Nathan Burnett has just turned thirty, and things aren’t great: He’s working (and failing) at two jobs, his credit card debt is piling up, and his only move… is moving back home with his parents. But when Nathan discovers and unlocks the ethereal, cosmic RADIANT, he’s given the power to radically change his fortunes! There’s just one problem: The powers don’t belong to him. And the COSMIC BEINGS who created them want them back… by any means necessary.

PCS Review:

This book is a great start to this series. Kyle Higgins and Marcelo Costa craft a complete “not so” secret origin to the protagonist of this book. The real world scenario that puts the main character in the place to gain super powers is a major factor in the story, and the circumstances that deliver him to that event are both timely and excellently written. There is a real sense of empathy that is developed by the reader toward Nathan.

The art in this book is wonderful. The style is the perfect mix of slightly cartoony, superhero, and indie slice of life. Costa’s art strikes the right balance for this book which has a great action sequence, that takes up the middle part of the book, and plenty of emotional story beats. The color work and background details are the spices that complete this entrée. I need to say that Becca Carey does a fantastic job lettering this book. There are some expository parts of dialogue that the story needs, and the lettering adds to the weight and emotion of the scenes.

We are excited to see what comes next. This book is definitely going on the pull list.

With Further Ado #131: A Murder of Crows, An Unkindness of Ravens

With Further Ado #131: A Murder of Crows, An Unkindness of Ravens

I just learned that a bunch of crows isn’t called a flock of crows, but a murder of crows. It can also be called a congress, a muster or cauldron of crows. You’d think I’d know this, as my hometown, Auburn, is kind of overrun by crows. It was a bad problem for a while but is better now, thanks.

I am proud of this little town and the entrepreneurs in it.  Despite being overrun by murders of crows, and the largest employer being a prison, local entrepreneurs make the best of it all. For example one local start-up coffee business calls their business Crow City Roaster. And a local (award-winning) brewpub calls themselves Prison City.  Hey, if you can’t laugh at yourself, what’s the point, right?

But back to a murder of crows.  I stumbled across this factoid as I was trying to understand the title of a new comic series from BOOM! Studios: An Unkindness of Ravens. And yes, you guessed it, and unkindness is another of those cool-but-archaic words for a bunch of ravens.

This series is up to its fourth issue, and I’m enjoying it way more than I should.  An Unkindness of Ravens is about a creepy little New England Town and the creepy little secrets it harbors. The protagonist is “the new kid at school”- a  high school girl named Wilma Farrington. And of course, everything and everyone is not what they seem to be.

The most fascinating thing about the series for me isn’t the story, but the way this comic tweaks the business model of a modern-day comics series. Right now, there’s so much innovation going on that it makes the behind the scenes stories as interesting as the comics themselves. Continue reading “With Further Ado #131: A Murder of Crows, An Unkindness of Ravens”

With Further Ado #129: “Scout’s Honor” Earns AfterShock A Merit Badge

With Further Ado #129: “Scout’s Honor” Earns AfterShock A Merit Badge

I was never a Boy Scout. But from the outside looking in, it seemed like a pretty neat club: secret rituals and goals and uniforms and badges.  And they have that “Knights of the Round Table” mindset: to do some good in the world.

Way back when I was a kid, the only Boy Scout rule I ever knew was “As a Boy Scout I promise to do my best and the help the girl scouts get undressed.” And you know what? I don’t think that was a real rule. (I can’t believe the things we used to say back then.)

Fast forward to my professional adult life. When I worked at Nabisco on cookies like OREO and Chips Ahoy!, we really did plan around the inevitable sales dip for when Girl Scout Cookies went on sale. They were a force to be reckoned with.

When I worked at an agency in midtown Manhattan (in the original, beautiful Tiffany’s building, in fact) the National Headquarters of the Girl Scouts was right around the corner. They had a nice open area with benches in front of the main entrance where you could sit and have a sandwich during lunchtime.  I was always surprised that nobody ever tried to sell me a cookie.

I’m thinking about the Scouts because AfterShock Comics has just come out with an innovative new series called Scout’s Honor. The premise is clever. In a dystopian future, the ragtag survivors use the Scout Handbook (they are called Ranger Scouts in this reality) as their “instructional manual” for survival. Continue reading “With Further Ado #129: “Scout’s Honor” Earns AfterShock A Merit Badge”

With Further Ado #126: Ripped from the Headlines: The Fake News of Rip Hunter

With Further Ado #126: Ripped from the Headlines: The Fake News of Rip Hunter

It’s funny how the looking at an old story with a contemporary lens can change things completely.

But before I get into that, I must admit I’ve always loved time travel stories.  Movie favorites include everything from A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court to Time After Time to Back to the Future. I love the simple ones and the complex ones.  I still think the main reason I was admitted to a top ten business school was because I turned my essay into a time travel story.  And in my comic collection, I have one short box that’s all time travel-y series, you know stuff like Aztec Ace, Chronos, Ed Brisson’s Comeback and Stephen Perry and Tom Yeates’ Timespirts. And DCs’ Rip Hunter…Time Master is right there in the front of the box.

I snagged a beat-up “readers copy” of Rip Hunter…Time Master #23 earlier this year, but I just recently got around to reading it. As you can see by the stunning cover – the shocker is that George Washington was really a spy!

(As an aside, I can’t help but draw parallels between Rip Hunter’s “You’re a spy/No you’re a spy” exchange the infamous “I’m not a puppet, you’re the puppet” debate exchange a four years ago.)

It seems that in 1964, many American school children believed, or were taught, that George Washington was the greatest American patriot of all. So, how could he, of all people, have been a spy?!? That’s what the whole sales hook of the cover was based on.

Here in 2020, there’s a contrary view for everything.  I am fascinated by the concept of the epistemic dissenter. As I understand it, this term refers to a well-informed individual who uses selective facts to develop a view or belief that is contrary to mainstream, commonly held and even science-based ideas.

As an extreme example, people who believe the world is actually flat, and have facts to support their theory, are epistemic dissenters.  And no, I don’t know if they can explain how their cellphones work. Continue reading “With Further Ado #126: Ripped from the Headlines: The Fake News of Rip Hunter”