Comic Review: Dungeons & Dragons: Neverwinter Tales – The Legend of Drizzt, Vol. 1

Published: March 21st, 2012
Written by: Geno Salvatore, R.A. Salvatore
Art by: Agustin Padilla
Based on: Dungeons & Dragons by TSR, characters by R.A. Salvatore

IDW Publishing, 128 Pages

Review:

This is the first Drizzt Do’Urden story that I’ve read outside of the six volume comics series that IDW published, which adapted his earliest literary stories.

This one takes place further in the future and he doesn’t have the family-like crew that he built up over those six volumes. Here, he teams up with an ally I’ve never seen before, as they hunt down a warrior dwarf that was turned into a vampire.

Once they realize that the vampire dwarf is another ally, they try to help him, as opposed to killing him. Together, the three work together to take down the master vampire.

This is a pretty decent story with decent art and I like the concept of a vampire dwarf. However, it feels pretty weak when compared to the better Drizzt stories.

I wouldn’t call this bad, it just falls below the standard I’ve come to expect from IDW’s Dungeons & Dragons comics.

If you like Drizzt, it’s worth a read but first, I’d definitely jump into the six volume series I’ve already reviewed.

Rating: 6/10

Comic Review: Wolverine: Bloody Choices

Published: 1991
Written by: Tom DeFalco
Art by: John Buscema, Joe Jusko (cover)

Marvel Comics, 65 Pages

Review:

This story happens after the Wolverine and Nick Fury team-up in The Scorpio Connection but also takes place before that story’s direct sequel Scorpio Rising. So this has become the second act in what fans now refer to as the Wolverine/Nick Fury Trilogy.

Like its predecessor, this was released as a trade paperback and was made for more mature audiences than the typical single issue, floppy comics Marvel was publishing at the time. As a middle school-aged kid, I loved releases like this. However, this is one that I had never read until now.

The story deals with Wolverine uncovering a large pedophile ring in Central America. A kid dies trying to save his brother from the pedo cartel and Wolverine decides that these scumfucks need to be ripped to shreds, literally.

However, Wolverine quickly discovers that Nick Fury is also trying to take these evil men down. Wolverine doesn’t want to go “by the book”, as he’s hell bent on making the leader suffer an agonizing death. However, Fury wants to take down the larger cartel that exceeds the main villain’s local reach.

We eventually get a legit fight between Fury and Wolverine and it is one of the most epic Marvel has ever published featuring two heroes at odds.

Beyond that, Wolverine has to question his rage and his personal mission and what we get is a really good and satisfying ending.

I thought that Tom DeFalco wrote one of the best stories he’s ever done with this. I also enjoyed John Buscema’s art immensely.

Man, this was just incredible and being only 65 pages, it accomplished a lot and far exceeded any expectations I had for it.

Rating: 9/10

Comic Review: Red Sonja/Claw: The Devil’s Hands

Published: January 24th, 2007
Written by: John Layman
Art by: Andy Smith, Jim Lee (cover)
Based on: Red Sonya by Robert E. Howard, Red Sonja by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith, Claw the Unconquered by David Michelinie, Ernie Chan

Wildstorm, Dynamite Entertainment, 112 Pages

Review:

Yeesh! This was bad.

I thought a story that brought together Red Sonja and Claw the Unconquered would be pretty damn badass. Well, it should have been but this certainly wasn’t.

The Jim Lee cover was really damn cool, though.

I also thought that Andy Smith’s art throughout the comic was pretty good. There were a few spots in the action sequences that I had to examine, though, as the transition from one panel to the next seemed to be off.

As far as the story, it was pretty schlocky. While I like schlock of a certain caliber, this was just lowest common denominator crossover bait, which is something that companies like Dynamite and IDW have become famous for over the last several years. Granted, this is about fifteen years old now but this is also where I noticed IP crossovers really starting to become far more common.

At least this didn’t bring the characters together through magic portals, which has been a bad trope in stories like these.

Anyway, you can totally skip over this unless you’re a Red Sonja completist. But if you are, maybe read this last after all the other stuff.

Rating: 4/10

Comic Review: Moon Knight – Epic Collection, Vol. 3: Final Rest

Published: December 19th, 2018
Written by: Doug Moench, Steven Grant, Tony Isabella, Alan Zelenetz
Art by: Bill Sienkiewicz, Kevin Nowlan, Joe Brozowski, Bo Hampton

Marvel Comics, 486 Pages

Review:

Well, I’ve gotta say that as much as I’ve loved the other early Moon Knight – Epic Collections that I’ve read, this one most definitely takes the cake! In fact, it’s pretty f’n perfect, even if it features issues with different creative teams.

It kicks off with Doug Moench writing and Bill Sienkiewicz doing the art. They had lead me through the series through pretty much its entirety up to this point. However, just a few issues in, creative teams shift and then later, shift again.

Regardless of that, the tone of the stories and the art remained pretty damn consistent. And this just reminded me of the level of quality control and consistency that Marvel used to have, which they are sorely lacking today.

This kicks off with a really awesome story featuring Stained Glass Scarlet, who has become a character I really like after reading just her first two appearances.

We then get the even better debut story of Black Spectre, which became my favorite Moon Knight story up to this point in the original series’ run. Frankly, it’s one that will be really hard to top.

After that, we get a lot of stories that continue to develop the character of Moon Knight and his inner battle with his multiple personalities. I’d say my favorite story arc of the lot is the werewolf one, though. And man, I loved the art style used for the werewolf, as it reminded me of The Howling, which probably inspired the design, as that film came out just a few years before this was originally published.

There’s also appearances by the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Doctor Strange and Moon Knight’s first encounter with The Kingpin.

This was just an incredible stretch of issues and while I own some, I may actually seek out the single issues and complete this run.

Rating: 10/10

Comic Review: Nightwing, Vol. 5: The Hunt for Oracle

Published: November 1st, 2016
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Greg Land, Scott McDaniel, Karl Story

DC Comics, 331 Pages

Review:

I took a bit of a break, as I had reached the middle of the collected editions of Chuck Dixon’s classic Nightwing run. But now I’m ready to jump back in with this installment, which I thought was pretty good and full of action and multiple story arcs, which were mostly entertaining.

The two best stories are the ones that are essentially the bookends of this volume.

The first is about Nightwing breaking into prison to take down the supervillains that have taken it over. It features a lot of villains and some of them actually help Nightwing, as they’re not happy with the conditions they’ve been provided with under the new tyrannical rule of Lockup and his right hand, KGBeast.

The last story is about Barbara Gordon a.k.a. Oracle and the former Batgirl, being abducted with Nightwing and his allies trying desperately to find her. I don’t want to spoil what happens, as there is a cliffhanger that sets up the next volume.

As for the art, the earlier issues here continued to have a very ’90s style, which hasn’t aged all that well, even though I liked it at the time. After the first third or so of this volume, Greg Land took over and the book looked more refined and polished.

Overall, this is a good chapter in the larger Dixon run. It also progressed the stories of Blockbuster and Nite-Wing, the ripoff wannabe sidekick, in ways that kept their stories interesting.

Rating: 7.5/10

Comic Review: Daredevil: Return of the King

Published: November 6th, 2014
Written by: Ed Brubaker
Art by: Michael Lark, David Aja, Marko Djurdevic (cover)

Marvel Comics, 142 Pages

Review:

Daredevil: Return of the King was a fitting end to the Ed Brubaker run on the series, as well as what was the Marvel Knights run, which saw the comics released under that banner come with more grit, more realism and more adult storylines and themes.

With this story arc, Daredevil returns to the classic “Legacy” numbering, as it ends at issue 500 and then another creative team takes the series over following that impressive milestone.

This kicks off by bringing The Kingpin back into the story. He’s been gone awhile but the way he’s brought back is fucking dark but really cool. This event also changes him and he decides to work with Daredevil in an effort to finally take down The Hand and a very deadly threat to them both: Lady Bullseye.

This also wraps up some of the core storylines that started during the Brian Michael Bendis era and then rolled over into Brubaker’s. By the end of this, the series sort of has a clean slate to go forward in a new way for the next creative team.

For those who read my earlier reviews in this series, you know that I initially liked Bendis’ run but then it felt aimless and sort of got annoying. Brubaker stepped in and really cleaned up Bendis’ mess in a way that worked and sort of reset the series.

This story arc is a culmination of everything that came before it and it’s also an all out war. Honestly, once you get to the end, it feels like you need to let out a very big breath because we’ve reached a definitive conclusion to over 100-plus issues of pretty intense events.

Frankly, this was a prefect ending to a hell of a run. Granted, Daredevil keeps moving forward beyond this but had the series ended, I would’ve been more than satisfied. What a great arc with real meaning and purpose.

Rating: 10/10

Comic Review: Star Trek: The Q Conflict

Published: October 30th, 2019
Written by: David Tipton, Scott Tipton
Art by: David Messina
Based on: Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry

IDW Publishing, 145 Pages

Review:

This has been in my Comixology queue for awhile, so I figured that reading it was long overdue and I wanted to enjoy a fun Star Trek story considering that modern Star Trek has gone the way of every other once great franchise after being taken over by “creatives” with political and social agendas and no actual creativity.

So the best thing about this miniseries was that it didn’t involve any of the Kelvin Timeline bullshit or anything remotely associated with the J.J. Abrams “reinvention” that started in 2009.

I find that kind of surprising, actually, as the comic industry is even more woke than the television and film industry and the fact that IDW of all companies gave fans something they wanted is worth a hat tip.

So the story sees Q, along with some other highly advanced alien species, bring in the crews of Kirk’s Enterpeise, Picard’s Enterprise, Sisko’s DS9 and Janeway’s Voyager. They hold a draft and each of the four alien species builds their own team, mixing up these crews into four new factions. These four factions then have to play games in an effort to entertain these godlike aliens while also settling their dispute, which is causing space and time to have some potentially catastrophic side effects.

Now the mixing up of crews felt unnecessary and it made it hard to follow, as it’s hard keeping tabs on which characters are on the same team. But that’s also kind of moot, as the crews are conspiring to solve the problem together while appearing to be playing the game by Q’s rules.

I actually really liked that Trelane from The Original Series was one of the aliens in this. He was often theorized to be a younger version of a Q. While he’s not, I loved seeing him banter with Q and sort of bending the rules of the game to his own personal advantage.

In the end, the humans find a way to end the conflict and to return back to their proper places in time and space.

This was an amusing and entertaining read and I was glad that I was able to escape into something under the Star Trek banner, once again.  

Rating: 6.25/10

Comic Review: Wolverine/Nick Fury: The Scorpio Connection

Published: 1989
Written by: Archie Goodwin
Art by: Howard Chaykin

Marvel Comics, 66 Pages

Review:

I have loved the hell out of this graphic novel’s cover since I was a little kid hanging out in comic book shops with very limited funds. So I never actually bought this back in 1989 or the years that followed and I hadn’t actually read it until now.

While I enjoyed this it’s pretty average for what Marvel was putting out in their popular graphic novel series at the time. With a script by Archie Goodwin and art by Howard Chaykin, I went into it with pretty high hopes that this didn’t live up to.

Although, it’s still a pretty cool, action-packed book. I just felt like the story needed more pages to really be fleshed out and that things felt rushed and then it was over.

I did enjoy Chaykin’s art, as I usually do. I dig his character design and his patented style and it did a good job setting the tone for this story. But like the story, I wish there was more.

Still, this is beefier and a bit more adult than the standard single page comics of the era. I thought the villain was kind of neat but he barely got a chance to develop in any sort of meaningful way in just 66 pages.

Rating: 6/10

Comic Review: Deathstroke: The Terminator, Issues #35-40

Published: 1994
Written by: Marv Wolfman
Art by: Launchland Pelle, Nigel Tully, Jaxon Renick, Ed Hannigan, Will Blyberg, Charles Barnett, Rus Silver

DC Comics, 151 Pages

Review:

They stopped releasing the Deathstroke: The Terminator series in collected volumes, so I figured I’d still finish out the series, reviewing a handful of issues apiece until I reach the end, which happens at issue 60.

This stretch of the series is pretty significant in that it features the first meeting between Deathstroke and Green Arrow. I guess the importance of that depends on how much you were into Arrow over the first few seasons. For those of us who watched it, as it was pretty great its first two years, we know how much these characters mean to one another in the CW television universe.

In the comics, they never cross paths as much but it is still cool to see the stories where they do, as opposed to just seeing Deathstroke run into Batman, Nightwing or the Titans for the umpteenth time.

Apart from the pretty cool Green Arrow encounter, this is basically a series of one-off issues. Granted, they are connected and form a larger, ongoing arc but the stories are written and presented so that if you just happen to pick up one issue, you can enjoy it without all the extra context. And honestly, that’s a thing I miss in comics.

Marv Wolfman continues to tell good, engaging stories, here. However, Deathstroke is his creation and he knows the character better than anyone else. I’m actually impressed and happy that Wolfman was still writing this series this deep into it and well over a decade after creating the character in the pages of The New Teen Titans.

This also features more of the Pat Trayce version of the Vigilante character, which I’m starting to appreciate as much as the original version. I think the Adrian Chase one is still my favorite because I loved his original comic series and it’s going to be hard to take his spot because of that series.

So this was just more quality Deathstroke but I think as long as Wolfman is helming the series, I should expect solid results.

Rating: 8/10

Comic Review: The New Mutants – Classics, Vol. 7

Published: November 17th, 2016
Written by: Chris Claremont
Art by: Bret Blevins, Sal Buscema, Alan Davis, Jackson Guice, Rick Leonardi, Kevin Nowlan

Marvel Comics, 229 Pages

Review:

This collection of New Mutants stories was kind of all over the place. Also, none of them really grabbed me like most of the previous arcs leading up to this point.

I guess, by now, the series had been running for quite awhile and where it once felt like it was always building towards something and had an idea of where it wanted and needed to go, most of this felt like aimless filler.

I can clearly see the series running out of steam and I guess this is why everything got reinvented and soft rebooted not too long after this and the massive Inferno crossover event, which completely changed the dynamic of the team and its mission.

Now this isn’t bad by any means, it’s just that each story feels somewhat random and they don’t support each other and the progression of a larger arc as well as previous volumes have.

I guess the highlight for me was where this focused on Magik, her power struggle with S’ym and how things were changing in the realm of Limbo. This sort of sets up things that would happen in the big Inferno story.

Apart from that, everything else was entertaining enough but none of it seemed to matter, based off of where these characters’ lives were going to go. I guess, none of this really sticks or is all that memorable.

The art in this volume was also a mixed bag. A lot of different artists contributed to this stretch of issues and honestly, that just sort of adds to none of this really being memorable or sticking.

Rating: 6.25/10