Comic Review: Fantastic Four – Masterworks, Vol. 2

Published: June 24th, 2009
Written by: Stan Lee
Art by: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers

Marvel Comics, 298 Pages

Review:

While this isn’t the peak of the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby 100-issue run on the Fantastic Four, they really start to slide into their grove here, as the larger Marvel universe has expanded and this is the first collection that sees the Fantastic Four meet other heroes.

In this volume, we get to see them meet the Hulk, Spider-Man, Ant-Man and Wasp for the first time in Fantastic Four titles. The Hulk issue is particularly important, as it is the first time that Stan Lee created heroes crossed over in Marvel continuity.

In addition to that, we get more stories featuring Namor, Doctor Doom, the Puppet Master, as well as new villains like the Super Skrull, the Impossible Man, Molecule Man, the Mad Thinker and Rama-Tut, who would later become Kang the Conqueror, one of Marvel’s greatest and most powerful baddies.

This is simply a fun and entertaining read. As hokey as the earliest Stan Lee era stuff can be, it’s just enjoyable as hell and pretty endearing. He was one of the greatest creatives in the comic book medium and it’s really apparent here, as he travels in a lot of different directions, from issue-to-issue and covers a lot of ground, laying the foundation for the Marvel comic book universe, as a whole.

Incorporating the heroes of other titles into this, really sets the stage for the broader continuity. We also get to see a Watcher for the first time, which kind of propels things forward in the cosmic realm for future Marvel stories.

Where the first ten issues felt kind of random and like they were trying to find their way, these ten issues (plus an annual) seem to be building towards something. While I’m not sure if Stan Lee already had Galactus in mind, the man has definitely cleared the path for that massive introduction, which wouldn’t happen for another two years.

I also have to give props to Jack Kirby, who had an incredibly consistent art style his entire career but definitely looks as if he found his grove with these characters and their world. 

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: the other Marvel Masterworks collections.

Comic Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 4: Sins of the Fathers

Published: February 6th, 2013
Written by: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz
Art by: Andy Kuhn
Based on: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird

IDW Publishing, 122 Pages

Review:

This series has been on a really good trajectory, thus far. The first three volumes covered a lot of ground with great, energetic, action-packed stories. So I guess eventually, you’d have to reach a slower chapter and this is it.

That’s not to say that this is boring or that it’s not up to snuff, it just spends a bit more time on fleshing out some characters and this version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mythos.

A breather also felt needed, as the story could’ve easily gotten away from itself if it stayed primarily focused on action and having to make the characters fight too much.

This also started to give General Krang and his species some backstory, which we hadn’t gotten up to this point. His relationship with Baxter Stockman is pretty interesting and it’s developing and evolving while really painting the picture that this version of Krang is truly dangerous and not the buffoon people are mostly familiar with from the original cartoon series.

There is also a good moment in this between Splinter and Raphael, as Raph learns an important lesson. But that lesson also leads to Casey Jones essentially becoming the Turtles’ roommate.

I was pretty happy with this volume, I truly dig this series and I can’t wait to keep reading through it.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: the rest of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles run.

Comic Review: Doctor Strange – Epic Collection: A Separate Reality

Published: October 19th, 2016
Written by: various
Art by: various

Marvel Comics, 480 Pages

Review:

I’ve been going back and picking up a lot of ’70s Doctor Strange floppy issues, lately. Mainly, I love Marvel’s art style with their fantasy and horror titles from the decade and Doctor Strange had some of the best covers from that time. But after reading a few of the singles issues, I wanted to delve into a much larger chunk, so I gave this huge Epic Collection release a read.

This actually focuses on the end of Doctor Strange’s first solo series, his complete run in Marvel Premiere and then the first handful of issues of his second solo series.

This also features a ton of great artists and writers, as well as adapting some of H.P. Lovecraft’s characters and concepts into the Marvel Universe, beyond what was done in just the Conan titles.

Furthermore, this collection features just about all of the major Doctor Strange villains of the era with a lot of emphasis on Nightmare.

This was, hands down, one of the best Doctor Strange trade paperbacks I have ever read and it only solidified my love for the character from this era. It also kind of made me wish they’d have done something with Strange and Conan back in the ’70s due to the Lovecraftian flavor of this book.

I’ll be in search of other hefty collections of Doctor Strange from the ’70s and early ’80s because this was just damn cool and featured so much imagination and stupendous art. I wish people didn’t sleep on old school Doctor Strange, it’s really, really great stuff.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: other old school Doctor Strange collections, as well as ’70s Marvel fantasy and horror comics.

Comic Review: Stumptown, Vol. 4: The Case of a Cup of Joe

Published: January 25th, 2017
Written by: Greg Rucka
Art by: Justin Greenwood, Ryan Hill

Oni Press, 143 Pages

Review:

This fourth and final volume of Stumptown was definitely a step up from the fairly mundane third chapter. Granted, I still wasn’t as engaged by this story as I was the first two.

The plot here is more interesting than the previous book but there doesn’t feel like there’s any real danger here for the characters, as the heavies in this are inexperienced hipsters from the coffee scene and not legitimate, dangerous criminals and brutes that have actually gotten blood on their hands.

In fact, this felt more like a comedy than a neo-noir crime drama.

Maybe Greg Rucka wanted to go out on a lighter note with this one but it lacks the gravity of the earlier stories and certainly pales in comparison to the darker, grittier and more realistic neo-noir comic book tales by Ed Brubaker.

I didn’t think this was a waste but it didn’t hit the mark and just didn’t pull me in and hold onto me like the first two volumes did.

There’s really not much else to say. This is just about a bunch of rich eccentrics and hipsters trying to acquire some magic coffee beans.

The end.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: the other Stumptown volumes, as well as Gotham CentralKill Or Be Killed, The Fade Out and Sin City.

Comic Review: Superman: Last Son of Krypton

Published: October 8th, 2013
Written by: Geoff Johns, Richard Donner
Art by: Adam Kubert

DC Comics, 252 Pages

Review:

I wanted to read this because it was the first official comic book appearance of General Zod, the made-for-the-big-screen villain from the first two Superman movies by Richard Donner.

What makes this even cooler is that Donner worked on this story with Geoff Johns.

This collection is actually two separate stories. However, they both feature Zod with the first one being primarily about the character and his introduction into DC Comics canon. The second story primarily features Brainiac as the antagonist.

Ultimately, this was a really good read and one of my favorite Superman trade paperbacks of recent memory. Both stories were solid and they actually connect in a way that makes wedging both of them together, a more enjoyable, overall narrative.

I thought that Donner and Johns came up with a pretty satisfying story to introduce Zod and his family. I also thought that the Adam Kubert art was top notch but I’ve also always loved all the Kuberts.

If you grew up with the two Donner Superman films like I did, this should definitely peak your interest. It’s a worthwhile story that was both engaging and entertaining while also being a great homage to Donner’s Superman film work.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other Superman comics featuring General Zod.

Comic Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 3: Shadows of the Past

Published: September 26th, 2012
Written by: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz
Art by: Dan Duncan
Based on: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird

IDW Publishing, 105 Pages

Review:

Does this series keep improving with every volume? Why, yes it does!

So far, this was my favorite release in the collected trade paperback versions of IDW’s rebooted Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series.

My only real complaint about these is that I feel like each one should be longer than just four issues. However, the story arcs seem to fit this format thus far, as each of these truly feels like their own chapter in a larger novel.

In this one, we see Splinter and Shredder finally meet face-to-face. They also come to the realization that each is their ancient mortal enemy, meeting again in the modern world because destiny is a real bitch.

This also sees the Turtles get into their first official fight with Shredder while also meeting a new ally in Angel, along with her gang The Purple Dragons. We also see April come to discover just who the Turtles and Splinter are. Frankly, a lot happens in little time and even if there is a lot of story, there is also a lot of action.

This is a well-balanced series between its narrative, character building, relationship development and the action itself.

I love how this rebooted reimagining by original creator Kevin Eastman has set the foundation for what’s to come. This truly is a solid and satisfying series up to this point and I hope that this greatness maintains throughout.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: the rest of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles run.

Comic Review: Judge Dredd: Year One

Published: November 20th, 2013
Written by: Matt Smith
Art by: Simon Coleby, Greg Staples
Based on: Judge Dredd by John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra and Pat Mills

IDW Publishing, 105 Pages

Review:

This has been in my Comixology queue for awhile, so I figured it was time to give it a read.

Being that this is a Year One story, it focuses on the Judge Dredd character very early in his career. He’s still green, lacks experience and has to rely on his training, his undeveloped skills and the knowledge he gets from his seasoned superiors.

In this story, he has to deal with a strange psychic phenomenon that starts popping up, which gives powers to regular people and in the first part of this story, a group of juvenile delinquents.

The setup is interesting but the story doesn’t do much to capitalize off of that and just sort of falls flat and honestly, isn’t all that exciting or engaging.

I guess the high point for me would be the art. It was pretty good and I liked the tone of the comic. But beyond that, we’re just given an interesting concept that just doesn’t pan out into anything worthwhile.

This isn’t a stinker but it’s certainly forgettable.

Rating: 5.75/10
Pairs well with: other Judge Dredd stories by IDW.