Comic Review: Brand, Vol. 1

Published: July, 2020
Written by: Antonio Brice
Art by: Caanan White

Ikari Press, 52 Pages

Review:

I backed this comic on Indiegogo quite awhile ago and it was a campaign that took a long time to fulfill. But as these things go, as long as I get my comic and I enjoy it, no harm is done.

This definitely impressed me and it exceeded my expectations. I honestly didn’t know much about it but I backed it because Anotnio Brice, the creator, seemed like an alright dude and I really dug the artwork by Caanan White.

This comic looks fucking stunning and it was well worth the wait.

Additionally, the story was interesting, I felt like I got invested in these characters and in the end, I want to see where this goes.

There are a lot of different avenues and characters that the plot introduces and it packs in a lot for just 52 pages. It’s a good mix of the sci-fi superhero genre, as well as crime thrillers and fantastical adventures.

I’m not sure where this could go but it kept my attention and left me wanting more.

The story isn’t self-contained and this is a setup for the next chapter. However, based off of this, I’ll probably back the second volume.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other recent comics by Comicsgate or other successfully crowdfunded indie creators.

Comic Review: Super Harem, Vol. 1

Published: June, 2020
Written by: Matt Wenger
Art by: John Joseph Ball, Farah Nurmaliza

48 Pages

Review:

I backed this because it’s creator seemed like a cool enough guy. Additionally, the premise was intriguing and I wanted to see how the story panned out.

The plot is about a guy who gives superpowers to any woman he has sex with. His former girlfriend became a hero and found herself protecting their city from giant, kaiju-sized monsters. After discovering that her superpowers worked as a lure to attract these monsters, she left the city and her super sperm boyfriend behind.

As the comic starts, the guy gets drunk and has a one night stand that ends with a new girl also getting powers. This obviously creates some issues and things start to quickly spiral out of control.

Like many crowdfunded books, as of late, the story isn’t complete by the end of this volume. It will be continued in a future release.

That’s fine and I was glad to back this, especially since it exceeded the expectations I had for it. My experience with crowdfunded comics has been a really mixed bag. The really bad stuff I haven’t reviewed because I’m not into kicking small creators just trying to ply their trade. 

Wenger impressed, though, and this was a fun, energetic book with solid art, good writing and a well-executed original idea.

I’ll probably back the followup because I’d like to see what happens next. And frankly, repeat business is how you succeed at crowdfunding comics because it means that your project resonated with its audience.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: other recent comics by Comicsgate or other successfully crowdfunded indie creators.

Comic Review: Michael Allred’s Madman, Vol. 2

Published: March 11th, 2009
Written by: Mike Allred, Frank Miller
Art by: Mike Allred, Laura Allred

Dark Horse, Image Comics (reprint), 323 Pages

Review:

Michael Allred created something special, unique, quirky and cool with Madman. And since I own a lot of the floppies from the earliest issues, I’ve wanted to revisit them from the beginning. While I don’t have them all, I did pick up the collected editions during a sale on Comixology.

I really enjoyed the first volume, so I figured that reading the second one was long overdue.

This sort of picks up where that one left off and this collection covers multiple story arcs but everything here happens in order and builds off of the constantly evolving narrative.

These issues came out once the series moved from Tundra to Dark Horse. What’s cool about that is that this was able to have a cameo by Mike Mignola’s Hellboy. It’s really neat seeing the two characters come together, even though it just happens in one issue and is short-lived. I’m not sure if this series has anymore minor crossovers in the following volumes but I liked seeing Allred and Mignola’s universes overlap, even if it was just briefly.

The art in this one feels more crisp and more polished. The first volume was initially in black and white but this one comes to life with incredibly vibrant colors that just work so well with the line art and give this a cool, pulpy look that made it stand out from what was the norm in the ’90s when this was originally produced. That’s really what made me take notice of the original floppy copies back then.

In the end, this expands the mythos and made me love this world even more. This series is hilarious and strange in the best way possible.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: the other early Madman collections, as well as SCUD: The Disposable Assassin, the Hellboy and B.P.R.D. comics and The Goon.

Comic Review: USAssassin, Book I: Old Habits…

Published: June, 2020
Written by: Mark Poulton
Art by: Mike McMahon

Haunted Pizza, 80 Pages

Review:

I probably wouldn’t have backed this on Indiegogo but after getting a copy for free with Graveyard Shift: Volume II and digging the hell out of it, I’ll most likely back the followup volume.

In fact, I enjoyed this more than Mark Poulton’s Graveyard Shift comics, as it channels the same sort of vibe as the two most recent runs on DC Comics’ Deathstroke, which have been some of my favorite comic book titles of the last five-to-ten years.

With the inclusion of the elite soldier squad that turn out to be bad guys, this also had notes of Suicide Squad, which just worked for me. I guess in some sense, it felt like the team we’re introduced to is like a fucked up G.I. Joe where the main character isn’t willing to cross a certain line and thus, draws the ire of his team and its leader.

This was a quick but awesome read and the 80 pages just flew by. I liked the story, I got invested in this new character and I’m optimistic about where this could be headed in the future.

Additionally, I really liked Mike McMahon’s art and this felt like a top notch comic book akin to the better DC Comics titles of the last few years.

This had cool characters, cool character design, a simple but solid story and it’s just my cup of tea.

I already want a refill.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: Mark Poulton’s Graveyard Shift, as well as the modern runs on Deathstroke, Suicide Squad and Red Hood and the Outlaws.

Comic Review: Pro Wrestling’s True Facts

Published: 1993
Written by: Tom Burke, Dan Pettiglio
Art by: Dan Pettiglio

36 Pages

Review:

I kind of just came across this randomly on eBay. I’m always looking for unique comics, as well as wrestling memorabilia. This actually checks both boxes and I thought it was a neat concept worth checking out.

This is about the history of professional wrestling told in comic book form. It puts a lot of emphasis on the old school era of the wrestling business and it’s just cool as hell for those who love that stuff, as well as history in general.

The likenesses of the wrestlers are fantastic and every page is incredible to look at and a lot of fun to read.

From what I can tell, this is a pretty rare comic as I couldn’t finds much outside info on it but it’s certainly worth adding to your collection if you’re into this sort of stuff or if you just like picking up odd and unknown comics.

The seller may still throw them on eBay every now and again but I’m assuming it had a really low print run and it won’t be the easiest comic to find as more time passes.

Rating: 7.5/10

Comic Review: Fantastic Four – Masterworks, Vol. 5

Published: August 7th, 2014
Written by: Stan Lee
Art by: Jack Kirby

Marvel Comics, 248 Pages

Review:

This right here is the volume I’ve been waiting to get to! This is the collection of the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby run on Fantastic Four where everything changes and the Marvel universe expands exponentially!

This edition of the Masterworks series covers issues 41 through 50, as well as the third annual.

Within this collection, we get a great Frightful Four story, the marriage between Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Girl, the full debut of the Inhumans, as well as the first appearances of Silver Surfer and Galactus! There are also cameos from just about every hero and villain from the Marvel universe of the 1960s! This chapter in the saga literally has everyone and everything!

What’s even better than that, is that Stan Lee is absolutely on his A-game with these stories and scripts and Jack Kirby’s art was on-point.

If you can only ever read one Fantastic Four collection, graphic novel or trade paperback, it should be this one.

This is quintessential Fantastic Four at its finest. It’s the epitome of what was so damn great about ’60s Marvel and the work of Lee and Kirby.

Just buy it, read it, read it a dozen more times and cherish it forever.

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

Comic Review: Gotham City Sirens: Book One

Published: October 28th, 2014
Written by: Paul Dini
Art by: Guillem March

DC Comics, 314 Pages

Review:

I didn’t know much about this series but I really like Paul Dini’s Batman work, especially what he did on the near perfect Batman: The Animated Series. I also like how he wrote Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy on that show and thought that Dini gave them a fantastic dynamic, as well as superb chemistry.

This series adds Catwoman to that mix and since Dini did well with her character on that animated show, it just seemed like another reason to give this a shot.

Even though I anticipated liking this, I was still surprised by how good it is!

This brings the three women together as roommates, as they try and keep each other on the straight and narrow path, trying to be reformed criminals doing a little good in the world. Of course, things can’t be that simple.

The Riddler also plays a big role in this, as he helps the women where he can. That is, until he feels betrayed and personally hurt by them towards the end of this volume.

This is a pretty thick collection of stories, as it includes the first thirteen issues of the ongoing series. Within that, it features several story arcs, all of which are pretty good. There isn’t a dull moment in this run of issues and I actually really liked the standalone Christmas story that saw Harley return to see her family.

Dini gives us a lot of info on the backstory of all these characters and shows how some of their stories had some overlap at different times, whether they knew that then or not. For instance, the moment Harley met Ivy, she also met The Joker. Both characters would have an immense effect on her life.

So much happens in this and all of it is good. I dug the hell out of it much more than I thought I would. I’m sure I’ll read and review the second volume in the very near future.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: other Paul Dini Batman-related comics.

Comic Review: Adam Post’s College of the Dead 2: Graduation Day

Published: June, 2020
Written by: Stefan Petrucha
Art by: Javier Aranda

Adam Post Media Group, 48 Pages

Review:

I just recently read and reviewed the first College of the Dead. I got both volumes at the same time, so I didn’t want to wait too long before jumping into this one.

To start, I like it better than the first. Also, this one is colored and the color work is pretty good. It gives the book a lot of life even though I kind of like black and white horror comics.

I felt more engaged by this story as well. It has some layers to it and it explores some things within the main character’s personal life while the zombie apocalypse is happening all around him.

I don’t want to get into too many plot details and spoil them, I’d rather people just pick this up and give it a shot, assuming you can still find copies.

My only real complaint about the book is one of the complaints I had about the first one.

Both of these volumes only tell the story in simple landscape panels. However, where the first book gave you two panels per page, this one gives you six. From page-to-page, it’s just dull to look at and the book should just be more dynamic, visually.

Maybe this is just the personal choice of the writer or the artist. Or maybe the artist is limited by what they can do and can only draw in this format. Regardless, I’d like to see them experiment more with the layout. And like with the previous book, there seems to be a lot of wasted space with the large margins.

In the end, though, this was an entertaining comic book that served up some solid escapism and that’s what I want my comics to be: an escape from the bullshit of the world outside.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: its predecessor and other indie zombie comics of the modern era.

Comic Review: Daredevil: Love & War

Published: 1986
Written by: Frank Miller
Art by: Bill Sienkiewicz

Marvel Comics, 65 Pages

Review:

This was a one-shot graphic novel that came out a few years after Frank Miller had completed his Daredevil run. However, it was a return to form, narratively speaking, while also coming off as even darker due to the haunting and beautiful visuals created by one-of-a-kind artist Bill Sienkiewicz.

The plot is fairly short and sweet but it’s important to the overall character development of The Kingpin, as well as his relationship with Daredevil.

The story sees The Kingpin try his damnedest to save his beloved wife Vanessa. He does some pretty heinous shit while trying to get her the treatment she needs. However, this all horribly backfires in a way that will effect him forever.

Additionally, there is a side story about the doctor’s wife and her situation, as she is being watched over by a violent madman that believes her to be an angel.

This has a very layered story and it taps into neo-noir and psychological horror vibes.

While this does feature Daredevil, he almost feels secondary to the majority of the story. He just sort of moves in and out of it and the real players moving the chess pieces on the board are the doctor and The Kingpin.

Ultimately, and without spoiling too much, this is really compelling stuff with exceptional art and some of Frank Miller’s best writing.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: Frank Miller’s run on Daredevil.

Comic Review: Graveyard Shift, Volume II

Published: June, 2020
Written by: Mark Poulton
Art by: Jon Malin, Anthony George

Haunted Pizza, 48 Pages

Review:

It’s been awhile since the first Graveyard Shift came out but these crowdfunded comics take time.

While I mostly liked the original, I was expecting more out of this one, after the setup. However, I also wasn’t expecting this to be the end of the story, as I know more volumes are planned.

However, this is the end of this story arc, which in totality, comprises about the length of four regular floppy comic book issues.

That being said, while I also enjoyed this one, the plot felt a bit rushed, as I don’t feel like we really got to know these characters well enough in the limited time we had. Add in all the action and cool stuff and the story just didn’t have enough room to breathe and properly develop.

I think that it needs more balance between developing the characters, especially this early, and the big action sequences.

Granted, I would like to read more of these and get to know these characters better. And I hope that they are explored more in the future.

Apart from the story, which I don’t want to spoil for those who haven’t read it yet, I thought that the art was a bit of a step up. Jon Malin didn’t deviate from his style but it feels more polished and refined, here. I’m not sure if he spent a little more time on this volume or if he’s just improved since last year’s release.

Ultimately, this was a fun, great looking read. It’s not my favorite series out of the crowdfunded stuff I’ve supported over the last few years but I would put it in the upper echelon. 

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: other recent Comicsgate books like Richard C. Meyer’s Jawbreakers, which Malin also worked on.