Comic Review: Mars Attacks the Holidays

Published: October 31st, 2012
Written by: various
Art by: various
Based on: Mars Attacks! by Topps

IDW Publishing, 49 Pages

Review:

I’ve had this in my collection for a few years but it got buried and I didn’t find it until recently, so I finally gave it a read. Plus, it was the right time of year.

Sadly though, this was pretty lackluster.

It’s an anthology of four short stories crammed into just 49 pages. Each story has a different creative team on writing and art duties and there isn’t a consistency between the styles. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but the first story had the worst art and really got this thing off to a poor start.

It isn’t just a Christmas themed book, which I initially thought. Each story covers a different holiday: Halloween, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Yes, you read that right… Veterans Day.

The Thanksgiving chapter was the only one I really enjoyed because it was kind of clever and had a sequence where Thanksgiving Day Parade floats basically came alive to fight off the Martian invaders. It’s hokey and goofy but so is the Mars Attacks property. It works for the story and I thought it was definitely the highlight of this anthology.

The other three stories didn’t do much for me but they weren’t a waste of time as this trade paperback was really short and luckily, wasn’t too expensive when I bought it.

I really like Mars Attacks but the comics can be hit or miss. This was mostly a miss but I certainly don’t have buyer’s remorse over it.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: other Mars Attacks comic book releases.

Comic Review: Batman: Secret Files

Published: October 31st, 2018
Written by: various
Art by: various

DC Comics, 39 Pages

Review:

Other than Detective Comics and White Knight, I haven’t been a big fan of Batman comics as of late.

I hoped that this was better than the current run of the regular Batman title but it mostly wasn’t.

This is an anthology. I’m not sure if this is a one-off or a miniseries but I won’t pick up the second issue if there is one.

Anthologies are always a mixed bag but this one was pretty pointless and most of the stories didn’t resonate with me at all. In fact, I only liked one tale in this and it was the one that co-starred Detective Chimp.

I can’t knock the art though, most of it was pretty good but it doesn’t necessarily blend together well, as each chapter in this already short anthology is done by a different creative team.

But hey, I’m only out $4.99 and the foil cover is a nice piece of art to add to my comic book collection.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: modern Batman stuff.

Comic Review: Marvel’s What If? (2018 Minieries)

Published: October 3rd, 2018 – October 31st, 2018
Written by: various
Art by: various

Marvel Comics, 136 Pages

Review:

Marvel has had several different runs with their What If? title. I have always been a fan of it, as it gives us new and different takes on Marvel characters. Usually, they show what happens if characters made different choices or if a major event had a different outcome. I couldn’t read enough of these when I was a kid and in a lot of ways, when I first came into comics, it was What If? that pinpointed the moments throughout Marvel history that were the most pivotal.

This 2018 miniseries was only six issues and all of them were unfortunately released over just five weeks. I wish they would make this an ongoing series again or at least spread them out more.

Like the X-Men: Black miniseries, which also came out weekly over October, this had different creative teams with each issue and it showed.

The six stories in this series were What If Flash Thompson Became Spider-Man?What If X-Men? (not a clearly defined title), What If Peter Parker Became the Punisher?What If Marvel Comics Went Metal with Ghost Rider?, What if Thor Was Raised by Frost Giants? and What If Magik Became Sorcerer Supreme?

Out of the six titles, the only ones I really enjoyed were the Magik and Punisher ones. Thor and Flash Thompson were okay but the X-Men one was a mess and the Ghost Rider one was one of the worst comics I’ve read in several years. I mean, it was beyond atrocious and getting through it was a hell of a chore.

Marvel could rectify their problems with this series, if they don’t rush them next time. If this was a regular monthly series like it was at its peak, the stories would probably have more time devoted to them.

Some of the art even felt rushed and half assed.

Ultimately, I liked a few issues but I can’t really recommend the series over all.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: old school What If? comics, many of which have been re-released for $1 under the True Believers imprint.

Comic Review: X-Men: Black

Published: October 3rd, 2018 – October 31st, 2018
Written by: various
Art by: various

Marvel Comics, 160 Pages

Review:

Part of me wanted to be excited when I first heard about X-Men: Black, an anthology of five issues, each of which showcased a famous X-Men villain, along with a sixth story that was broken up over the five issues.

However, I knew that it would probably miss the mark, as X-Men comics, outside of Old Man Logan, haven’t been good for quite some time. I did have a little light of hope though, as Chris Claremont returned to pen the Magneto issue.

But unfortunately, this did miss the mark almost completely.

Most of the stories were beyond awful. The Apocalypse tale was the best one and the Juggernaut story was pretty darn good. Now Claremont’s Magneto issue was okay but it didn’t really cut the mustard and didn’t live up to the great standard that Claremont set in the X-Men‘s heyday.

The Mojo issues wasn’t completely terrible and it was entertaining and certainly not a bore. But it still felt out of place and didn’t work in the grander scheme of things.

Now the Mystique and Emma Frost issues were atrocious.

Mystique was a terrible person, doing terrible things and didn’t act like Mystique at all. The book read like a violent and vindictive fantasy of the author without any real purpose other than to make you hate the character, hate the author and hate the issue. This chapter alone really drags this entire series deep down into the muck.

The Emma Frost story wasn’t that different from Mystique’s and also didn’t do this series any favors. Plus, Emma looked like an anorexic college freshman and felt more like Emma Roberts from Scream Queens than Emma Frost, the voluptuous blonde that’s almost naked and has melted boys hearts since 1980.

Overall, this had potential but only two writers even seemed to actually try to write something worth anyone’s time. The rest phoned this in and obviously didn’t give a shit.

Rating: 4.75/10
Pairs well with: modern X-Men schlock.

Comic Review: Cursed Comics Cavalcade #1

Published: October 10th, 2018
Written by: Bryan Edward Hill, Tim Seeley, James Tynion IV, Mags Visaggio, various
Art by: various

DC Comics, 86 Pages

Review:

I’ve stated before that I’m not the biggest fan of anthologies but this was a lot of fun and most of it was pretty good.

This came out just in time for Halloween and even though it’s given a “#1” on its cover, I’m pretty sure that this anthology of superhero and horror mashup stories is just a one-off release to celebrate the month of October and all its horrors.

With each story we also get a different creative team, so the quality varies but there wasn’t anything that I’d say was disappointing.

The only real negative was that cramming ten stories into 86 pages means that those stories are really short. I felt that there were a lot of good ideas here that needed more room to breathe. It was hard feeling like there was any tension or a legitimate build up, as everything was over almost immediately.

I thought that the Superman story probably did the most with the short space it had. I also really liked the Swamp Thing, Etrigan and Solomon Grundy tales.

If you are into these heroes and love horror, this is a fun read. Nothing substantial or all that memorable happens within these pages but it didn’t need to.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: other horror anthologies but this also goes well with the current run of Justice League Dark.

Comic Review: Stardust

Published: September, 2018
Written by: Nasser Rabadi
Art by: Shawn Langley

Secret Comics, 28 Pages

Review:

Out of all the Comicsgate related projects that I backed on Indiegogo, this was the first to reach my door. Initially, I wasn’t going to support this one but Nasser Rabadi eventually won me over after appearing on multiple live streams on YouTube. He conveyed his passion for the project well and with such a low price point when compared to other Comicsgate offerings, I jumped on board.

For the most part, I liked this comic. However, there just isn’t enough room for the story to breathe and with two shorter stories tacked on to the end of this 28 page book, the main story suffers from a lack of depth.

In a nutshell, an alien arrives on Earth, his people are slaughtered, he gets away but then kills a family living in the woods. He is distracted by the storytelling of his final victim, however. But then there is a twist at the end, which I won’t spoil.

I think Nasser had a decent story but the characters’ motivations and behavior weren’t really explored in anything more than a topical way. But this is still a good start, he just needs to develop characters more and fine tune his plotting a bit. He should find good writers in his circle of other creatives that can critique his writing when it’s still in the creative process. This is how artists get better and grow. As an artist, it’s something I do on a daily basis with colleagues.

The two shorter stories at the end were way too quick to really get a proper feel for. I’m also not a fan of comic book stories that are only a few pages. I don’t typically read anthology comics for this reason. I want to understand a story and its characters, as opposed to having a kernel of an idea that doesn’t have the room to grow and breathe.

The one thing that really stands out for me is the art. Shawn Langley did a stupendous job in that regard. I love the design of all the monsters featured within the pages of Stardust. Also, Langley’s use of a strong chiaroscuro style makes the imagery pop.

Stardust may not have fully satisfied me but it was definitely worth what I paid for four copies. It was a better experience than most of the modern horror comics that have come across my lap in the last few years.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: Alterna Comics sci-fi and horror offerings, as well as recent horror comic Peek-A-Boo.

Comic Review: Vampirella Archives, Vol. 1

Published: December 22nd, 2010
Written by: various
Art by: various

Dynamite, 390 Pages

Review:

I’ve read a few stories over the years with Vampirella in them. I have never gone back to check her out at her earliest though. Luckily, there was this archive edition of her first seven issues.

If you also haven’t read the earliest Vampirella stuff, then this book could be a bit of a disappointment. Not because it is bad but because what Vampirella was, in her original incarnation, was very different than what she would become.

The character was originally imagined as a horror story hostess, similar to Vampira or later, Elvira. She was created to set up short horror stories in an anthology collection, which is what her magazine was for its first eight issues. After that, she would go on to be a character with her own life and adventures.

While the original concept was really cool, I can see why they would change and evolve. Reading the seven issues collected here, the format starts to get derivative and actually loses its luster pretty quickly. Some of the short stories are fun but some just feel like quickly crafted knockoffs of stories you’ve seen before.

I really liked the art style in these old school Vampirella stories though. It kept that pulp feeling going strong well beyond the decades where it peaked.

This collection is definitely historically important but it isn’t a necessary read for those wanting to experience Vampirella. The second volume gets more into the Vampirella stuff most people would want to read. You know, where she is a total badass and gets her hands dirty while wearing only about four square inches of wardrobe.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: Lots of old horror and pulp magazines. I would continue on from here and keep reading further into Vampirella, as she goes on to be a leading character in her own stories, as opposed to just hosting tales.