Comic Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 16: Chasing Phantoms

Published: May 10th, 2017
Written by: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz
Art by: Mateus Santolouco, Dave Wachter
Based on: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird

IDW Publishing, 127 Pages

Review:

While I like that the IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book series is in new territory, by this point, and trying fresh things for the franchise, I also question whether or not it’s ran its course and is just running on fumes after the defeats of Shredder and Krang.

Don’t get me wrong, I like that it’s sort of changed its tone and there are new villains but it’s starting to feel a lot less like the traditional TMNT I grew up with and more like it’s trying to figure out where to go, charting new, unknown territory even for original creator Kevin Eastman.

Splinter being in charge of the Foot Clan just seems damn odd, even if he’s trying to make them a force for good. He’s still doing things that seem really out of character and the Turtles, his sons, recognize this. It’s been going on for a few volumes in this series now and I’m kind of waiting to see if there’s a real reason for it that will somehow make sense in a big, stunning reveal.

The series is just in a place of uncertainty in regards to where it’s going and the core characters’ lives and direction. I still like it, I’m still invested but something has to happen and soon.

The art is still on par with the previous volumes and as the series rolls on, it gets a wee bit better even with each chapter.

As I said, I’m still enjoying this, sixteen volumes deep, but I really feel like something big needs to go down much sooner, rather than later.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: the rest of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles run.

Book Review: ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Bitcoin’ by Matthew R. Kratter

I first discovered Matthew R. Kratter when, on a whim, I picked up his book A Beginner’s Guide to the Stock Market. After reading that, I started following his channel on YouTube and as he delved more into cryptocurrency, specifically Bitcoin, he became just one of two channels that I actually listen to and take their insight seriously. The other channel is Crypto Tips, for those who might be wondering.

Kratter’s stock market book was rather good so when he announced this one, I was pretty excited.

So this is a pretty short book and in fact, I read it in a single sitting.

However, for something only 60 or so pages, it is chock full of not just useful information but great information. Kratter knows Bitcoin exceptionally well and this is, hands down, the best book I’ve read on the subject, as it takes something that is complex and overly technical to the average person and explains it very simply and thoroughly.

My favorite part of the book was the section where he answers common questions and dispels common myths and concerns. While I’m 100 percent on board with Bitcoin, there are still worries I’ve had, even keeping up on it for almost a decade now. Kratter put some of those real concerns at ease and this is something that I’m sure I will continue to reference, as time goes on.

I enjoyed this so much and thought it was pretty close to perfect that I also got copies for friends who are interested in the crypto space but very apprehensive about it, even though they see my success with it.

Frankly, this past week has exposed major flaws and deep corruption in the Wall Street system, as hedge funds have fallen to Redditors with an axe to grind.

DeFi is the way of the future and the true road towards freedom. There isn’t a better time than now to get on board.

This book will help you get there.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: Matthew R. Kratter’s other books, online courses and his YouTube channel Trader University.

Comic Review: Punisher/Captain America: Blood & Glory

Published: 1992
Written by: D.G. Chichester, Margaret Clark
Art by: Klaus Janson

Marvel Comics, 148 Pages

Review:

This was just incredibly badass! It made me yearn for the days of Marvel Comics when I was still an impressionable, young middle schooler.

This was originally released as three 48ish page square bound trade paperbacks. The Punisher had several books released this way that were mostly one-off stories. This one, however, was so epic and awesome it took three books to contain it. I’m actually going to review more of these one-off style bigger comics in the coming weeks or months.

In this, we get to see Punisher and Captain America come together, after the Punisher was sent to assassinate Cap. Cap fakes his death, Nick Fury is involved in that and Cap is sent to stop the real threat, alongside the man who was sent to put him down.

This is a great political thriller with intrigue and cool twists. Tonally, it reminds me a lot of the Winter Soldier movie but it’s even more badass and much more “adult” than a typical Marvel comic, even in 1992.

I also like that Klaus Janson was the artist on this, as the book looks stupendous and he’s one of my favorite artists of the era. His version of Punisher and Cap have always been pretty high up on my list. He also illustrates action so well and there are some phenomenal action sequences in this book. The big action-packed finale where Punisher and Cap fight helicopters is just f’n awesome!

This is just a badass miniseries, period.

Damn, I typed “badass” a lot in this one.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: other Punisher comics of the late ’80s and early ’90s.

Book Review: ‘Barbarian Life: A Literary Biography of Conan the Barbarian, Vol. 2’ by Roy Thomas

The first volume of this book series covered issues 1-51 of the original Marvel Comics Conan the Barbarian series. This volume covers issues 52-100.

These two books are written by Roy Thomas, the legend that wrote the Conan comics. These basically serve as his commentary on his stories.

In fact, when I go back and read old issues, I’ve picked these books up to read his insight before revisiting them.

Thomas has always been one of my favorite comic book writers and the Conan franchise has always been one of my favorite IPs. So having these books is pretty damn cool and I’m actually pretty thankful that something like this was written, compiled and published.

I already reviewed the first one and all the positives I had to say about it also ring true for this volume.

All in all, these are great, resourceful books that allow you to understand Thomas’ inspiration, his stories and these characters on a level much deeper than just the comic book page.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: Roy Thomas’ historic run on Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian.

Comic Review: Deathstroke: The Terminator, Vol. 5: World Tour

Published: January 22nd, 2019
Written by: Marv Wolfman
Art by: Steve Erwin

DC Comics, 237 Pages

Review:

Man, I really love this series outside of the weird third volume. I’m glad that it recovered from that chapter and this one is actually a bit better than the previous one.

Marv Wolfman really knows Slade Wilson a.k.a. Deathstroke but then he should, as he created the character a decade before this series.

I love this in the same way I love the earliest G.I. Joe stories by Larry Hama. It has that same sort of gravitas and machismo while also featuring badass characters outside of just the main one.

With this series, I’ve become a much bigger fan of the Pat Trayce version of Vigilante than the original version. She looks great in the costume, is a complex, solid character and it’s extremely hard not to like her, even if she sometimes acts too reactionary and doesn’t trust Deathstroke, the man she unfortunately loves but who is also, in this era, trying to do good things and atone for his sins.

I love Deathstroke and Vigilante’s relationship, though, as they are usually allies but often times in each other’s crosshairs. Wolfman writes these characters and these stories so well, however, that it just works and makes sense.

Like most of the previous volumes I also really enjoy the art in this.

I guess this volume is probably the most important one in the series, thus far, as it shows a bridge finally being built between Slade and his ex-wife, who still wants him dead due to his part in their sons’ deaths.

This volume also takes Deathstroke around the globe and just about every single issue collected here has him somewhere else. That reminded me a lot of G.I. Joe, as well.

I really dug the hell out of this volume and that should come as no surprise if you’ve read my other reviews of this series.

Sadly, there isn’t a volume six but the series continued on beyond this. I’m not sure how I will review the rest of the run but I may just read everything that’s left and review it as one big batch of issues.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: the other volumes in the original Deathstroke: The Terminator series from 1991 to 1996.

Comic Review: Red Sonja: Worlds Away, Vol. 1

Published: August 9th, 2017
Written by: Amy Chu
Art by: Carlos Gomez
Based on: Red Sonya by Robert E. Howard, Red Sonja by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith

Dynamite Entertainment, 197 Pages

Review:

In the spirit of all those Conan the Barbarian stories that sent the title character into modern times, as well as the awful but enjoyable film Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time, we have finally gotten a Red Sonja tale that sends her into the future a.k.a. our present.

Granted, this did come out in 2017. I just got around to reading it though, as I’ve read through a lot of other Red Sonja runs since I started this site and started reviewing comics.

I liked that this story really just got right into it and sent Sonja to present day New York City pretty much immediately while she was in a major scuffle with the evil sorcerer, Kulan Gath.

For the most part, I enjoyed the story, most of the characters Sonja meets and the art was pretty damn good.

My only real complaint was that there was a lot of things that were done for plot convenience. In comics, I can look away once or twice but there was just too many instances of it that I was like, “Oh, c’mon!”

Still, I liked this in spite of that. I just feel like this would have been a much better experience than it ended up being had those conveniences been less common and figured out within the story in a logical, believable way.

I still plan to read the other volumes in this series, anyway, as I love Red Sonja and this is a fun, fresh take on it.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other Red Sonja stories from Dynamite, as well as the Conan comic book stories that put him in the modern world and the second Beastmaster movie that sent the hero to 1990s Los Angeles.

Book Review: ‘Indiana Jones and the Dance of the Giants’ by Rob MacGregor

This second book in the ’90s Indiana Jones novel series was better than its predecessor and Rob MacGregor seems to have found his groove a bit more with this one.

Like its predecessor, it feels more like an episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, as opposed to feeling like a story as epic as the film series. That’s fine but I hope these start to get more grandiose in scale.

This book also goes to less places than its predecessor, as the entire story is confined to the United Kingdom, only seeing Indy in London, rural Scotland and Stonehenge.

That being said, if you ever wondered what it’d be like for Indy to have a story take place around Stonehenge, well… this is it!

Even more than the first book, I liked the characters in this a lot. Especially, Indy’s returning college buddy, who got to be much more involved this time around. I also liked the love interest and her role in the bigger picture.

What I really liked, though, was the villain. He was a young, ambitious but evil member of British Parliament. He had his eyes set on unlocking the secrets of Stonehenge and Merlin in an effort to rule the world.

This story takes place after Indy has left college as a student and started his first teaching job in London. This aspect of the story was cool, as you get to see him uncomfortable and a bit out of his element, even though it’s well-known that he becomes a successful archeology professor. It’s these parts of the books I like though, as they serve to enrich the character and fill in some of the blanks from his long, adventurous life.

All in all, this was a lighthearted and exciting read.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: other Indiana Jones novels from Bantam Books’ run in the ’90s.