Comic Review: Frankenstein Alive, Alive! – The Complete Collection

Published: October 10th, 2018
Written by: Steve Niles
Art by: Bernie Wrightson, Kelley Jones
Based on: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Marvel Comics, IDW Publishing (reprint), 84 Pages

Review:

Originally released by Marvel Comics in 1983, this version of the Frankenstein story has stood the test of time because of the absolutely astounding art by Bernie Wrightson. In fact, if there were any original comic book art pieces I could own (not counting Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko), it’d be something from this visual masterpiece.

That being said, the story is also damn good and really compelling, as it serves as a sequel to the original Mary Shelley Frankenstein novel. It even exists in a world where that story is known, as more of a legend, and the monster is initially seen as portraying the legendary monster while carnival-goers believe it’s just a show and even point out that he doesn’t resemble the Karloff version of the monster (never mind that the 1931 film wouldn’t have existed in this story’s time).

Anyway, the story sees the monster have a final conversation with his creator before the monster is buried alive. He is eventually found by another doctor, who treats him well and tries to make him feel more human. That is, until this doctor’s wife discovers the monster and her reaction to him makes the monster remember that he’s an abomination and possibly born of evil.

This is a pretty dramatic and emotional character piece that shows the world through the eyes of the monster. It’s a unique and really cool take on the story and it most likely inspired a lot of the Frankenstein stories that came after, whether they were told in other comics, novels, films and television programs.

I love this comic and honestly, I just wish it was longer.

Rating: 9.5/10

Comic Review: The Complete ’90s Cyberfrog: Warts and All

Published: August, 2021
Written by: Ethan Van Sciver
Art by: Ethan Van Sciver, Kyle Ritter (cover colors)

All Caps Comics, 416 Pages

Review:

I’m a big sucker for presentation and that probably has something to do with the fact that I work in marketing and do a lot of packaging design, myself. That being said, when this arrived at my door, I was immediately blown away by just the shipping box not to mention the treasure trove of wonderful shit inside.

Most importantly, though, was the main comic itself, a hardcover omnibus of Van Sciver’s original Cyberfrog stuff from the ’90s. Most of which I haven’t read until now.

I think the thing that I liked most about this was seeing a young Ethan Van Sciver’s work evolving from the beginning-to-end of this collection. Things get more and more fine tuned, as you go from issue-to-issue in this.

I also like that it was presented in its original format, whether that be black and white or with ’90s era coloring.

As far as the stories go, this is a mixed bag but it’s not a bad mixed bag. I enjoyed most of it but it was clear that Van Sciver was searching for his footing with not just this character but the whole mythos around the character.

It’s also pretty clear which comics Van Sciver was inspired by at the time but that’s not too dissimilar from most comic book artists’ earliest work. When I drew comics in the early ’90s, it was very clear that I was pulling from a lot of the stuff created by the original Image Comics partners. It was hard to draw comics in that era and not be inspired by that stuff, especially if you wanted to sell comics.

All in all, this is one hell of an awesome release by Ethan Van Sciver’s All Caps Comics and my favorite thing I’ve gotten other than the first of the modern Cyberfrog releases.

Rating: 9/10

Comic Review: The Cimmerian, Vol. 2

Published: June 2nd, 2021
Written by: Robin Recht, Sylvain Runberg, Robert E. Howard
Art by: Jae Kwang Park, Robin Recht
Based on: Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard

Ablaze, 168 Pages

Review:

This volume in Ablaze’s The Cimmerian series was more of a mixed bag than the first one.

Reason being, I thought the first story was slow, overloaded and a big step down from the previous two tales in the first volume, while I thought that the second story was really good and well adapted.

The two famous Robert E. Howard Conan stories that were adapted here are “The People of the Black Circle” and “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter”.

The first one is a story I like in its original form but it was really wedged into the short space that it was allotted for this adaptation. It needed more room to breathe and because of that, I don’t necessarily blame the writer and artist as much as I do the publisher.

Due to that, the story featured pages with lots of dialogue and tiny panels that made this look more like an advent calendar than a comic book. It was hard to read, flowed poorly and was kind of exhausting. I wasn’t really put off by the art style, itself, just how it had to be whittled down and stuffed with too much.

Now the second story was pretty great and it salvaged this volume of The Cimmerian and my rating of it.

“The Frost-Giant’s Daughter” has always been one of my favorite Conan tales and with the style of art, here, it looked magnificent and mesmerizing. The atmosphere, visually, was perfect.

Additionally, the adaptation was solid. There’s really not a whole lot to say other than it was pretty close to perfect, top-to-bottom, and the best adaptation Ablaze has done yet, although I really, really liked “Red Nails”.

So with that, this volume is suffering from multiple personality disorder. At least it went out with a serious bang and I’ll most likely be picking up the third volume when it drops in a few months.

Rating: 7/10

Comic Review: The Death of Superman (2016 Edition)

Published: April 5th, 2016
Written by: Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway, Louise Simonson, Roger Stern
Art by: Jon Bogdanove, Brett Breeding, Tom Grummett, Jackson Guice, Dan Jurgens

DC Comics, 212 Pages

Review:

I have read the Death of Superman issue several times over the years. However, I have never read the full story with everything leading up to that iconic issue, which took the world by storm at the end of 1992.

The story is pretty good, even if it’s really just several issues of the weakest Justice League lineup in history trying to stop Doomsday until Superman shows up. Every issue is action-packed as this entire story is just one massive fight between several heroes and one, seemingly unstoppable enemy.

And that’s certainly not a bad thing, as this did a superb job of telling an action-filled story and keeping each chapter interesting and new. It also adds in some subplots around the larger story, so that it can be broken up a bit.

Some subplots creep in, though, where I didn’t know what was really going on, like the stuff with Lex Luthor II and Supergirl. I wasn’t reading Superman in this era, so I was at first confused as to why Supergirl was with him and why Lex had ginger hair and a beard.

I thought that the art in this was good and the pacing of the story was pretty superb.

All in all, this was a pretty good read, better than I thought it’d be, and it features one of the greatest Superman throwdowns in the history of the character. And it was a hell of an introduction to Doomsday. 

Rating: 8/10

Comic Review: Avengers: Citizen Kang

Published: 1992
Written by: Roy Thomas
Art by: Larry Alexander, Geof Isherwood, Herb Trimpe, Dan Panosian (cover)

Marvel Comics, 223 Pages

Review:

Citizen Kang wasn’t just an Avengers story, it spanned four different annuals in 1992 and also featured the Fantastic Four quite heavily, as well as some characters from the Inhumans and Eternals.

It’s a damn cool story if you are a fan of Kang the Conqueror, as I am. Back when this was current, I loved the story because it gives you the full backstory of Kang up to this point in his history. A lot of the pages collected here are flashback stuff but it’s not by any means boring, even if you know Kang’s previous stuff. Reason being, Kang’s a complicated character with multiple versions of himself running around. So this served to give you the CliffsNotes version of that complicated history.

But this isn’t just a condensed history of Kang, that’s just a small part of this total package. This actually sees Kang try to take down his enemies, be they actual heroes or other villains that have caused him problems.

This was an ambitious and big story and I thought that Roy Thomas delivered. Being that he had been at Marvel for a few decades at the time that he wrote this, he knew a lot of these characters and their histories together very well.

Also, being that this is four annuals collected into one volume, it also includes all the extra side stories and supplemental material. My only gripe with this release was how it was all organized. It just pieced the four annuals together as they were printed. I would have rather had the main story flow in order and then tack on all the extras at the end, instead of having them feel like roadblocks between each main chapter.

Still, everything in this was entertaining and hit its mark.

Rating: 8/10

Comic Review: The Cimmerian, Vol. 1

Published: December 23rd, 2020
Written by: Regis Hautiere, Jean-David Morvan, Robert E. Howard
Art by: Pierre Alary, Didier Cassegrain, Olivier Vatine
Based on: Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard

Ablaze, 144 Pages

Review:

Now that Conan has fallen into public domain, at least the earliest stories, anyway, other publishers besides Marvel can now make Conan comics. Ablaze is the first company that I’m aware of that has taken their shot at adapting the iconic character.

In this collection, we get Ablaze’s adaptations of “Queen of the Black Coast” and “Red Nails”.

I like both of these stories a lot and always have because the first one features Bêlit, the swashbuckling pirate queen, and the other features Valeria, another female warrior that was great at Conan’s side.

Starting with the “Queen of the Black Coast” story, I thought the adaptation was pretty good but it also flew by rather quickly. I mostly liked the art, the dialogue was good and it felt pretty true to the story.

For me, though, “Red Nails” was the better half of this collection. I liked the art more, the story felt longer and more detailed and it had the right sort of vibe, matching Robert E. Howard’s source material.

All in all, this reminded me a lot of the old Savage Sword of Conan magazines that Marvel put out back in the day. These comics had a harder edge to them and didn’t pull any punches unlike the modern Marvel stuff that tries to appeal more to all ages.

Rating: 7.5/10

Book Review: ‘The Best of Robert E. Howard, Vol. 2: Grim Lands’

I found this volume out of the two Best of Robert E. Howard anthologies to be the better one. I figured they’d blow their load in the first one but they really saved some good stories for this volume and there was more diversity in these tales from Howard’s most famous characters and the different genres he dabbled in.

This had great sword and sorcery tales, some swashbuckling, horror and a whole lot of action and adventure!

This book features solid stories with Conan, Kull and Solomon Kane. Each of those characters have a hefty amount of good material to pull from, though.

And sure, my preferences are subjective but the stories here are just ones that resonate with me more.

Also, these can be found elsewhere in other collections and even free online but if you really want to hold a thick, beefy book in your hand and enjoy some of Howard’s best work, this is certainly a good place to start.

Granted, I’d start with volume one but I’m OCD like that.

Rating: 8/10

Comic Review: Moon Knight by Bendis and Maleev – Ultimate Collection

Published: March 7th, 2018
Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art by: Alex Maleev

Marvel Comics, 264 Pages

Review:

After reading through the lengthy Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev run on Daredevil, I figured I’d give their run on Moon Knight a shot.

Reason being, I mostly liked Bendis’ Daredevil stuff other than how he didn’t know how to bring it to a close and his cringe romance shit. I also liked Maleev’s art, for the most part. Plus, I like the hell out of the Moon Knight character and wish I had read more of is stories over the years. I’m trying to rectify that now, as I’m older and have access to so much more.

This story is twelve issues long and it uses that space really well and wraps up much better than Bendis’ Daredevil run. I think that he went into this knowing where it needed to end and that since he had limited space to tell a story, he gave us something well structured that got to the point and gave us a satisfying conclusion.

In this story, we see Moon Knight dealing with his “hearing voices” problem in a fresh way. While he is recruited for a mission by Captain America, Wolverine and Spider-Man, he also starts seeing versions of them in his mind. Additionally, with such a close connection to them, he starts to use their gimmicks in his battles with L.A.’s criminal underworld.

That underworld is ruled by its own kingpin, similar to The Kingpin in New York City. However, this person’s identity is a mystery and Moon Knight is tasked with luring them out and discovering why exactly they wanted to buy a deactivated Ultron head.

Moon Knight also meets Echo, the two have a reluctant partnership but end up falling in love during their mission.

This becomes more and more high stakes as it rolls on. Out of the twelve issues, none of them are wasted on filler bullshit and the romance stuff is in there but it’s nowhere near as exhausting as what we got in Bendis’ Daredevil. It’s like Bendis improved in that regard and wrote something more natural and to the point. Nothing between Moon Knight and Echo seemed forced like it did between Daredevil and his wife Milla.

I also feel like Alex Maleev’s art was an improvement. It’s cleaner while also looking more detailed. It also fit the tone of the story pretty damn well.

I don’t want to say too much about the story, as there are some big reveals and twists but this is definitely worth reading if you want a superhero, neo-noir tale that isn’t Daredevil-centric.

Rating: 9/10