First up is the new Green Hornet book. This is a good re-introduction. It’s a self-contained story with a good resolution, though we get one page at the end that suggests this will be part of a lager arc to come. It’s not only a good jumping on point if you’re already intrigued, it’s also a good sampling issue for folks who aren’t familiar with the Green Hornet but might have been recommended. It’s got everything that makes the character great. We’re back in the 30’s, and that’s cool. While I do think that the Hornet lends itself better to modern updates than other characters like The Shadow. Back in the NOW day, they really ran with it and I loved what they did. Dynamites wasn’t bad, they incorporated some very good ideas like adding the Motorcycle and the mechanic, but I never completely warmed up to the costume and things just never quite fell into place. I’m not bothered by it going away. The whole Green Hornet : year one series had been far better done anyhow. the art was beautiful, moody and dark, much like the Bendis era of Daredevil, and it suited what they were doing with the character.
Speaking of Year one series, I did try out The Shadow : year one. It was pretty much what I expected…..it’s an origin story and that just rubs me the wrong way. I think one of the strengths of The Shadow is that he doesn’t have an Origin. Of course it’s possible that this is just one of his misdirections. After all, we have three other distinct origins – the One from Chaykn’s 80’s series, the Shamballa origin. This however contradicts the origin from the ’95 film, and neither really meshes with the one presented at the end of the 90’s series “The Shadow Strikes”. However, in that story, the Shadow does acknowledge, “One day I might tell you the story of Shamballah” suggesting that all of his potential origins are fake stories. That’s cool. I can deal with that, but if that’s t he case, i’m not going to waste my time on stories that don’t really develop the character because they’re misdirections.
I’m not complaining about this mind you – having a Shadow Year One series just shows that Dynamite is willing to exploit the license to it’s fullest. That was my biggest problem with Dark Horse when they had the character, they never put out any material. A couple of mini-series. A one shot. A team up. That’s about it. At least when DC had the Shadow, they were putting out a title every month. Dynamite has my enthusiasm because they are running two Shadow series simultaneously, not to mention specials, annuals and the team-up book Masks, which continues to be the most exciting crossover of my lifetime (getting a little crowded though. I’d rather see more Shadow and Green Hornet, and les Ms. Fury and Black Terror). This is nothing but good news, and the further we get away from the Ennis series, the better The Shadow has been. He’s fighting a lot more masked villains lately though and that feels a little unusual. It’s taking some getting used to, but it’s not a bad thing inherently. NOW managed to make that look good when they were doing the Green Hornet in the 80’s and 90’s, but then again, at that time period EVERYONE was wearing masks and spandex and armor….not so much in 2013. Still, it’s a fun book and I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.
Not a lot has changed in t he last few months. The DCU is still practacly unreadable to me, I just don’t recognize these characters anymore. Grifter is losing his title, which was one of the only new 52 ones I was keeping up with. We caught my impressions of the bat titles earlier this weeks so let’s move on to Doctor Who.
I started back up on these based on the high recommendation from my friend Don Smith. The art has improved since the Tennant series, I recognize all of the characters this time. My impression of the stories themselves however have just been……meh. It’s not bad. It really isn’t. It’s just not great….it’s not even as good as the TV series (and that’s a fair criticism. There are tons of Star Trek comics that I could point to that are superior to a bunch of the shows or films). Average isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s also not usually enough to keep me following it. This issue features the return of the Vash’narada (from silence in the library) but it really feels like I’ve seen all of this before.
On the other hand, IDW is also publishing the 40th anniversary series “Prisoners in Time”. This is featuring all of the previous Doctors in order. I skimmed the issues with one and two. I’ve just never liked those incarnations. I can sometimes enjoy Hartnell in the Target novilizations, and Trouton was fine in the two Doctors, but really they both just irritate me, and I’ve never understood why Trouton is the favorite Doctor for so many of the actors that came later.
This issue hwever…..this is the one featuring Jon Pertwee. The third Doctor. MY Doctor. He has always been my favorite, always been the one I think of as the REAL Doctor, and I’ve never seen him portrayed better in the comics.
There really aren’t that many comics featuring him in the first place and most of the ones that do exist are standard newspaper comic strip kind of art. He’s never gotten the dynamic Image Comics kind of treatment that the modern Doctors peroidiclly enjoy. I loved the art in this. It’s stylalized, kinetic and modern. Even better, it features Sarah Jane Smith as his companion (My favorite of the Thrid Doctor’s companions. Funny, I still think of her more as Pertwee’s companion than Baker’s) and they’ve got Liz Shaw back as well . Nowere to be found is that dolt Jo Grant, but the Brigidier is here as well and the story is very much an action one. I really love this piece.
There were more pulls last week, things like Red Team, which is a good series, especially if you’re a fan of procedurals like Law and Order or Criminal Minds- it deals with a group of cops turning vigilante, but I suspect there’s a bigger picture going on here. All Star- Western is another great idea series, and it seems to get better. Some people have criticized it for taking place in western era Gotham, but I’ve actually been enjoying some of that and throwing Vandal Savage in there fighting against Jonah Hex was a good idea. Still it’s another average book , and hard to generate a lot of enthusiasm about. Finally there’s Justice League Dark and Constantine. I think the whole issue with John Constantine deserves some further examination – I may revisit that once we’re a few issues into the new series. JLD on the other hand – this is a really interesting series….and too interesting to survive. I expect cancellation any day. We’ll see. For now, I’m heading off to do some Violent Blue. See you tomorrow.
This week I dipped my toe in a bunch of titles that I haven’t been reading in a long time. The problem with doing this however, is you can feel like you just walked into the middle of a story and end up quite lost.
Spawn manages the feat of making me feel like I’m in the middle of a story I don’t quite understand while at the same time feeding me more of the same old same old. It’s more “Who do you work for????” “Jason Wynn!” “Wynn’s coming for you!” Chains, power countdown timer, menace. I’ve seen all of t his before. On the other hand, it’s been a long time since Spawn has been cutting edge. The most revolutionary thing they’ve done in the 21st century was to change the identity of the title character from Al Simmons to ….I don’t even know his name. Perhaps if I cared more….
On the plus side though, this has spectacular art. It’s very similar to Tim Bradstreet, very much like the dark noir look of the best modern Daredevil stories. Last week I mentioned that Jerry Ordway was one of my favorite artists. I’ve always favored a more realistic look to the dynamic, hyper stylized feel of a Liefield or McFarline drawing. This works really well. I’d love to see this guy do a Hellblazer or a Hellraiser.
Army of Darkness is always a fun title, but you have to understand, this series has strayed miles from the movies. That makes it easy to feel lost. The thing is though, they haven’t really done any world building. This isn’t a tight continuity. They seem afraid to move far from the established characters and continuity of the films, so we just wander from situation to situation without ever really creating a narrative.
When a female Ash arrived at the cabin (now floating in another dimension, at a causal nexus of some sort), I was really hoping they were making an attempt to integrate the new Evil Dead movie into this series. It would have been a smart move and all this talk of multiverses seemed to point that way. The cliffhanger makes it clear that it’s not.
Finally there was Hawken : Genesis. Despite the fact that there are several gamers in my Violent Blue comic, I’m not one. I built myself a Pac Man Machine and decided I never had to buy another platform.
The point being, I had no idea this was based on a video game. It’s a great idea though. The art is stunning and the concepts are fascinating. I can absolutely see how this would completely flesh out a game world. These are very short stories, about half the size of a regular comic, but well worth it if you can track them down. I ended up having to go online to find the previous entry in the series.
I also grabbed Extermination. This really seemed like just indie superhero fare, but seemed to get a little dramatic towards the end. I haven’t read enough of this series (this was the first time I’d noticed it) to know if it had earned that kind of theme. I think I’m too lazy to go back and find previous issues though.
I happen to love Sherlock Holmes. My grandmother introduced me to the character when I was a child, but I only really started to appreciate him when I was a teenager and rediscovering it in reading class. I wasn’t this comic to be good. i really do. It has a beginning and and ending t hat both catch you, but the middle of this book just slogs on. It’s part one of a story so you almost want to give it some slack, but it just doesn’t keep my attention enough and the art in it is awful. Technically good drawing I suppose but it completely misses the soul of the characters and the era. I’m just not into it. I will probably get the second part of this, but it better get real good real quick or I’ll be dropping it.
Speaking of dropping, I think I’m done with new Valiant’s Bloodshot for a while. It’s not a bad book, it just isn’t my thing. I didn’t really get way into the original series and that may be having an effect on me. Archer and Armstrong on the other hand, continues to be a fun ride and genuinely better than it’s predecessors. I like how they are trying to ease some world building into this series by introducing the Eternal Warrior and t he idea of the Geomancer in through this series – and it’s the perfect place for it. Armstrong always put me off a bit in the old Valiant, but I like him quite a bit in this incarnation. Maybe it’s the hair or the better dress sense. I don’t know.
The Green Hornet on the other hand….I do believe they have the shark in their rear view mirror, having jumped it about the time Britt jr and Mulan Kato started gettin’ busy. Now with an attack on the home base…I know these are all classic comic book tropes, but this series is only like, two years old. Isn’t it a bit early to be hitting these cliches already? I like some of the extra elements they’ve come up with and the expanded cast, and I’ll keep reading as long as it runs, but I don’t think I’ll really miss it when it’s gone.
I saw there was a new Crow series out and thought I’d give that one a try for old time’s sake.
Why do I keep doing that to myself?
Actually the idea of a Crow at a death camp in Nazi Germany isn’t a bad one, but it’s just not enough for me to care. This concept has gotten so watered down over the years, it almost seems like anyone who dies violently comes back as a crow. I half expect batman’s parents to come back as the Crow!
Grifter is still a good series. I’ve heard this one is getting cancelled and that really does make me a little sad. I’m liking it and really enjoying the newer take on the character. This issue has him facing the Suicide Squad which is pretty much just flat out fan service aimed directly at me….or it would be if it were a Suicide Squad I recognized. Still, it’s actually a better handling of most of those characters than I’ve been seeing in thier own book. I love how he describes them : “Everyone in t he squad is dangerous.They’re Black Ops criminals with nothing to lose”. I’ve never really heard them referd to in that manner before and I love it. This story also establishes a prior working relationship between Grifter and (the new 52 character who isn’t anything remotely like) Amanda Waller. This particular comment alone is enough reason to get this book.
I miss fat, middle-age Amanda Waller. I totally believed that character WAY more than I do with this young, slim imposter.
Anyhow. Can I talk about She-Ra now?
First and foremost, we don’t see She-Ra in this series, we don’t get the entire Secret of the Sword treatment either, but rather we get just before that. This character and series is apparently going to be intergrated into DC’s MOTU series eventually and I can’t wait.
It’s itneresting, they address something I had felt for years – Adora’s costume. In t his she is still aHorde Force Captian, just like in Secret of the Sword. However, in that cartoon, she was wearing the same Adora costume that she wore for the rest of the series (which is fine. I get limited animation and all of that). Essentially a jacket and a nice confy cotten shirt. Everyone else in teh Horde wore armor and bats and sigils and she just didn’t fit. This changes that… and her horde armor is stunning, not to mention the name : Despara. Just great stuff. She fits in better with the Horde here, rather than coming off like a princess wandering through the halls of evil treading on rose petals all the way….now, she looks evil. Moreover, when she takes that helmet off….she looks damaged. You can see the brainwashing in her eyes, the chopped hair just adds to it all. I love this.
When we open, it mentions that we are on Etheria – in the dark dimension of Despondos. That tells me that we aren’t throwing out all of the previous continuity from the failed MYP series in 2002, and that’s a good thing. While there were elements I really didn’t like about that series (most notably the designs for He-Man and the Sorceress) That series worked very hard to add some mythology to this world that had never been as well developed as it’s contemporaries in Transformers and GI Joe. It added a great deal to the MOTU story and I had feared most of that would have been thrown right out the window since that series was now out of favor.
Seriously. We’d gotten what I thought a spectacular origin for him in the MYP series and I was heartbroken that someone was going to come in and just re-write it. It turns out they didn’t exactly re-write it after all.
This story explores Skeletor’s past. Yes, we knew he was actually Randor’s brother Keldor. We had even expected that he was really his half-brother. And we see him treated as the Half-brother by his parents. Always out of favor, always passed over. Interestingly ( and heartbreakingly) enough, Randor is the one standing up for him. He is perhaps the only person ever to really love Keldor. Interesting but predictable. We probably could have guessed most of this.
What no one ever considered before, was that Keldor was the older brother.
Seriously. This changes everything.
Before, he was just some megalomaniac. He was just a James Bond villian who wanted to take over the world. Now….he’s the elder. He has a legitimate claim to the throne….perhaps even a more legitimate claim than Randor. His madness is what now makes him unfit to rule, but before losing his face and submitting to Hordak’s magic and apprenticeship?
This is a whole new dynamic. It took the MYP series to make this into a generational story. DC has taken it and turned it into a generational drama. I love this. I haven’t been this excited about MOTU in a very long time and it’s just great.
That wraps up this week. Christmas is coming. I hope you all survive it…I’m going to go look for He-Man shaped presents under the tree.
So let’s start off with Youngblood, shall we? Actually I think this title has begun to hit it’s stride. It was nice to see the team seriously being heroic for a change, and the subplot with Jeff Terrel and the dead vogues has begun to shape up nicely. I’m actually looking forward to each next issue of this series. A little surprising considering…well it IS Youngblood.
Grabbed the Shadow Annual as well. This is a lot closer to what I want to see in the character. Gangsters and New York. Not sure how I feel about the supernatural element though. I supposes it could be explained away as TK and delusion if I want to approach it from a Skeptic point of view. That’s the thing about the Shadow though, he’s not really about ghosts and demons, he’ more about human monsters. I’d have no problem with him fighting Leatherface or Michael Myers, but I don’t want to see him against Freddy or Pinhead.
Speaking of Pinhead…..
I don’t know why I keep reading Boom Comic’s Hellraiser series. No, that’s not true. I know exactly why. I have a deep emotional connection to the series. I absolutely adore the first two movies, and I still like the later ones. I have workprints of two of them and I own all of the Epic Comic series. Those are hit and miss, but when they hit…they are amazing.
I liked that Boom made it about Pinhead and familiar Cenobites. The Hellraiser movies of the last decade show us precious little of that and the Epic comics really used the established Cenobites as supporting characters to their newly created comic characters. The problem is Boom almost immediately strays. Hell is referenced as the Christian Hell rather than a transdimensional realm of order and torment. Clive Barker himself has stated in the past that the Hell of Hellraiser is not the Christian hell…it’s just a place. We call it Hell because that’s the closest description we can find.
Speaking of Clive, I know that the series professes to be written by him, but lets be honest. “Writing” those comics probably involves handing over an outline initially and coming into the office or teleconferencing once every few months to approve the plot. Whatever. Attaching Clive to the project doesn’t impress me anyhow. He did the first movie. He wrote the novella. Since then, he’s had virtually no involvement with teh series. Peter Atkins, Gary Tunicliffe and even Rick Bota have had far more influence on Hellraiser and would be more accurately described as it’s creators. When they talk about the series, I listen. When Clive talks about it, I honestly don’t think he understands what Hellraiser is. The mythology has grown far beyond that short story or that one off movie.
But I digress.
The idea of Pinhead and Kirsty trading places probably seemed like and interesting proposal, but it’s been drawn out far too long and meanders without direction. We’ve spent three issues of Kirsty uncovering Pinheads past when one could do. Back on earth, a newly human Elliot Spencer seeks other avenues of power to take over the world. None of this feels like Hellraiser. Even if it weren’t ridiculous, they missed what makes Hellraiser scary. It’s a small quiet story, destroying the lives of just a couple of people. When you try for a grand scale, it just doesn’t work – look a the third nad fourth movies. A million deaths is a statistic. A single death is a tragedy.
Still loving the Anime-Con Girls digital books. I really want to read these with my daughters. I think they’d have fun with them. It’s still just anime action with slightly familiar faces and no real story, but it’s fun fluff.
I also grabbed the next Masters of the Universe digital edition. I’m glad to see Orko is still a loveable little scamp in this series. It was an interesting idea, a different art style for every page, but somehow it just didn’t work for me. It came off as annoying rather than cool. Still, this series has earned enough goodwill from me to get a pass on this one.
I jumped back on a couple of bandwagons this month just to test the waters a bit. First was Steed and Peel – the Avengers. The art’s gotten better in this book, I’ll admit that. Steed and Mrs. Peel look a lot more like they should. unfortunately, the rest of the book has a very 21st century look to it. I almost hate to say it, but these days, The Avengers NEEDS to be a period piece. You just can’t update these characters, they fit so perfectly in the 60’s. Indeed, I’d rather watch an episode of The Avengers to any James Bond movie of the same period. So when you do a period piece, it has to look like a period piece. Steed and Peel aren’t the only ones that need to look like they are coming out of the 60’s, so does everyone else….and they don’t. The hair is wrong, the lines of the clothing is all wrong, the monsters look very 2012. It pulls me right out of the book. I suspect this is a hard book to create and there may be bumps in the road still to come.
I also picked up the Green Hornet. I like this series, I really do, but somehow, it seems to fall right off my radar pretty frequently and I really shouldn’t let that happen. (Same thing keeps happening with the Walking Dead) On the other hand it is nice to grab the trades and just read an entire arc at once….
This one looks to have potential, a little light hearted but a cool superhero look and I really feel a nice familiarity with the characters that makes this title fun to return to.
I also decided to try out a couple of titles I’ve never read before. The first was Phantom Lady. I was thinking to myself as I grabbed it that this was a mistake. I don’t mind the character. I fond memories of first seeing her in old issues of All Star Squadron, but she never seemed like the kind of character that could successfully make the transition to the modern age. I may have been wrong about that . I like the costume, the action was fun and the repurposed black light is actually a little scary…the idea that it chills you, makes you feel empty. I like that. I also love the time limit on her phantom form and the banter between her and Dollman is actually quite entertaining. In fact they had me untill the last page where this villain appeared.
Also got Idolized. I think I’m the wrong audience for this. It’s basically “American Idol” for superheroes. The main character’s family was murdered by a super villain, she has powers and goes on this show to become a real superhero and avenge them. It’s just so full of Teenage High School-like drama and that’s just wasted on me. I would kind of like to know where this goes, and might take another look in a few months. I don’t know.
Higher Earth on the other hand was a pleasant surprise. The cover made it look a bit like a postapocalyptic story, but the inside felt more like Lost. We have a refugee society on an island, with one character making raids for food and supplies on parallel earths through a portal in a cave….it’s really more compelling that that sounded, I promise. I really didn’t even see the cliffhanger twist at the end coming.
That’s it for last week. I’ve got a stack of comics that just came out yesterday waiting for me and no time to read them (which is why you probably shouldn’t expect this to be a weekly feature on the site!)….busy weekend, cons, work, and a haunted house, not to mention I got to get some Violent Blue done too.
Sleep? What’s that?