Category: Reviews

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 #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”

Everything We Read This Week – 6/17/20

Everything We Read This Week – 6/17/20

Welcome back to Everything We Read This Week. It’s been a long time. Too long. 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 great comics.  We encourage you to go out (or order in) and find the comics you like, and remember, Read More Comics!!

We reviewed books from DC Comics, IDW Publishing, AWA/ Upshot Studios, Albatross Funnybooks, AfterShock Comics, Boom! Studios, and Image Comics this week. There were plenty more good books out there this week but this list is all we have gotten through so far.

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.

And here are the books we read in alphabetical order:

Continue reading “Everything We Read This Week – 6/17/20”

New Number Ones for the Week of June 17, 2020

New Number Ones for the Week of June 17, 2020

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 two books for you. They are from Boom! Studios, 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 both original series which is refreshing. There are so many fantastic ideas out there, and we are thrilled when new characters and stories are published.

This week we will bring you our thoughts on: A Man Among Ye#1, and Wynd #1 

Check out the reviews below in alphabetical order: Continue reading “New Number Ones for the Week of June 17, 2020”

Shari’s Suggestions #001: A Review of Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass

Shari’s Suggestions #001: A Review of Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass

Welcome to the first edition of Shari’s Suggestions. In this column, I will be reviewing original graphic novels (OGNs). The majority of books I review will be aimed at young to young adult readers. So, if that is what you like or are looking for, keep coming back. The first OGN I am reviewing is Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass

Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass
DC Comics / DC Ink
Written by Mariko Tamaki
Art by Steve Pugh
Letters by Carlos M. Mangual
Release Date: September 3, 2019

This book is a an alternate story of the origin of Harley Quinn. This graphic novel is for teenage readers and up. There is some violence and a few curse words.

The story starts with Harleen Quinzel arriving in Gotham on a bus from her hometown because her Mom had to take a job out of the country. She is going to stay in an apartment with her Grandma for the time being. She enjoys staying there, but since she is high school age, she needs to attend the local high school, where she meets the girl who will become her best friend. That’s right, Ivy is here too. The two hit it off right way and Ivy has some positive influence on her. Continue reading “Shari’s Suggestions #001: A Review of Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass”

Preview Reviews for the Week of 6/10/20: Adventureman #1, Faithless II #1, and Old Haunts #1

Preview Reviews for the Week of 6/10/20: Adventureman #1, Faithless II #1, and Old Haunts #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 three new books. They are from Adventureman #1 from Image Comics, Faithless II #1 from Boom! Studios, and Old Haunts #1 from AWA Upshot Studios.

You can find these books at your LCS on June 10, 2020.


Adventureman #1
Image Comics
Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Terry Dodson
Colors by Rachel Dodson
Letters by Clayton Cowles
Cover Art by Dodson & Dodson

Original Solicitation:

SERIES PREMIERE! A CATACLYSMIC ADVENTURE DECADES IN THE MAKING!

In this WILDLY AFFORDABLE TRIPLE-LENGTH FIRST ISSUE, revisit how the legend of the greatest pulp hero of them all, ADVENTUREMAN, ended in a heartbreaking CLIFFHANGER with our hero facing execution at the vile hand of his ultra-nemesis BARON BIZARRE on the eve of the MACABRAPOCALYPSE…or did it?!? Eighty years after his apparent demise, single mother Claire and her Adventurefan son Tommy seem to be the only two people alive that remember the thrilling ADVENTUREMAN sagas…but from that memory burns THE SPARK OF RESURRECTION! WHERE HIS STORY ENDED…HER STORY BEGINS! This sense-obliterating, earth-shaking, imagination-quaking adventure that spans generations comes to you from MATT FRACTION and TERRY & RACHEL DODSON!!!

PCS Review: Continue reading “Preview Reviews for the Week of 6/10/20: Adventureman #1, Faithless II #1, and Old Haunts #1”

New Number Ones for the Week of June 3, 2020

New Number Ones for the Week of June 3, 2020

Welcome Back to NEW NUMBER ONES! New comics are BACK!!!

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 Archie Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, 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 returns of well-known properties, but eminently worthwhile. They have been out of publication for a while, but we are glad they are all back.

This week we will bring you our thoughts on four books: The Boys: Dear Becky #1, Nailbiter Returns #1, Nancy Drew & The Hardy Boys: The Death of Nancy Drew #1, and Sabrina, The Teenage Witch: Something Wicked #1 

Check out the reviews below in alphabetical order:


The Boys: Dear Becky #1
Dynamite Entertainment
Written by Garth Ennis
Art by Russ Braun
Colors by Tony Aviña
Letters by Simon Bowland
Cover Art by Darick Robertson

The Boys are back. Garth Ennis returns to the property that has now become hit Amazon series, and it is a good thing. This first issue of the new series reminds readers that The Boys has long been known as a book that pushes the limits of polite discussion to the side and lays bare all the dark sides of humanity that we don’t want to think about. This book jumps right in and challenges the reader’s sensibilities in a way that doesn’t feel like outrageousness for outrageousness’ sake. Russ Braun returns to the art duties, and his storytelling and character depictions are fantastic, as usual. Tony Aviña on colors and Simon Bowland on letters round out an excellent creative team that delivers a wonderful return for The Boys. Continue reading “New Number Ones for the Week of June 3, 2020”

Everything We Read This Week – 5/20/20

Everything We Read This Week – 5/20/20

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 has been two months since we got new comics in comic shops, and we are so excited to #BackTheComeback. Our local comic shop was only open for curbside delivery this week, but we eagerly put on our masks and headed out to get new comics.

We reviewed books from DC Comics, Boom! Studios, AfterShock Comics, AWA Studios, and Image Comics this week. It was a light week as Marvel Comics will resume their new comics next week on May 27th. 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.

And here are the books we read in alphabetical order:

Continue reading “Everything We Read This Week – 5/20/20”

With Further Ado #95: Go Big [or Go] and Stay Home

With Further Ado #95: Go Big [or Go] and Stay Home

We all know that phrase: Go Big or Go Home!  It’s a clarion call to seize the day and to live large. It’s not always the best advice, but sometimes it’s just what’s needed.  So during this crazy lockdown time, let me call your attention to a few treasures that literally decided to “go big!” while we all stay home.

 

Joker/Harley Quinn Criminal Sanity
Written by Kami Garcia
Art by Mico Suayan and Mike Mayhew
Black Label, an imprint of DC Comics

While I’m generally not a big Harley Quinn fan, I’ve been a big Mike Mayhew fan ever since his days on Topps’ Zorro and Lady Rawhide with the incomparable Don McGregor.  Mayhew has gotten even better over the years, and today he entertains readers with his off-the-charts artistic talent in the new Joker/Harley Quinn series.

This story is a multi-part series told in thirty-two page increments in DC’s oversized Black Label format. To me, it has the feel of a European comic. Much of story is told in B & W , and that makes it so very, very  evocative of an old Warren or Marvel Magazine.

The “other artist” Mico Suayan, is just fantastic. I’ve enjoyed his work on Valliant’s Bloodshot. Suayan unfurls his artistic wings with majesty and grace in this larger-than-usual formal. Continue reading “With Further Ado #95: Go Big [or Go] and Stay Home”