Comic Review: Justice Society of America, Vol. 1: The Next Age

Published: June 24th, 2014
Written by: Geoff Johns
Art by: Dale Eaglesham

DC Comics, 128 Pages

Review:

After watching the first season of Stargirl on HBO Max, I figured that I’d give some of her more notable comics a read. Being that I really like Justice Society stuff and hadn’t read any in quite awhile, I figured I’d start with this.

The story starts with old Justice Society members trying to recruit new heroes, most of whom are descendants of previous members and have inherited their powers.

Because of that, Vandal Savage is using a team of Nazi supervillains to kill superheroes and their families in an effort to snuff out these bloodlines. However, he doesn’t see the bigger picture, which reveals itself by the end of this short story arc.

I’m a fan of Geoff Johns and dig so much of his DC Comics work. His Green Lantern run brought me back to comics on the DC side after a hiatus of about a decade, back in the mid-’00s.

Keeping with Johns’ style, this was a hell of a lot of fun to read and he once again showed that he’s really good at balancing a large ensemble of characters and letting them all develop and grow, despite having limited time to focus on each one.

This was an energetic and cool comic.

Frankly, I liked it enough to buy the next three volumes to read in the very near future.

Rating: 8/10

Comic Review: Thor: The Deviants Saga

Published: July 25th, 2012
Written by: Robert Rodi
Art by: Stephen Segovia

Marvel Comics, 114 Pages

Review:

I missed this back when it came out but I looked forward to reading it, as I loved the original Thor and Eternals mega-event from the ’70s and because this came out on the heels of a great Thor run by J. Michael Straczynski (reviewed here).

However, I was pretty underwhelmed by this and even though it featured a pretty cool battle or two, the story had really disjointed pacing.

Sometimes this dragged and then sometimes it felt rushed.

It’s not a bad story and I did enjoy it for the most part but it also seems pretty forgettable and lacks the impact that previous Thor/Eternals stories have had.

This also features Ka-Zar, which was cool, as I enjoy that character, but it just seemed like a glorified cameo the writer wanted to work in.

The art in this is really good and it represents a time when Marvel was still giving work to the best artists out there. Tonally, it felt like everything else that branched out of the Straczynski run.

All in all, if you’re actually an Eternals fan, this isn’t a bad read and considering there isn’t a lot of Eternals material, compared to other Marvel heroes and teams, I guess you take what you can. Although, the important Eternals don’t even show up until the end.

Rating: 6/10

Book Review: ‘Indiana Jones and the Sky Pirates’ by Martin Caidin

I got halfway through the ’90s Indiana Jones novels and decided to take a break. All of those were written by the same author, however, the final six are split between two authors. So I’m not sure if I’m just going to plow through all six or if I’ll take another break between the next author switch.

This one was… weird.

It doesn’t seem like the author really understands who Indiana Jones is. He’s an archeologist and explorer that more often than not finds himself in perilous situations with villains and evil armies usually hunting the same thing for nefarious reasons. He doesn’t ask the Nazis to show up but he’ll fight them long enough to get the MacGuffin away from their evil clutches.

In this book, Indy is written more like he’s James Bond. He is essentially recruited by world leaders to take down an evil international terrorist group called E.V.I.L. What?!

These villains have these airships that are pissing off the governments of the world. This also delves into discussion about aliens and ancient UFOs. Nothing really comes of that but sure, okay.

Keep in mind that the world governments all apparently know of Dr. Jones and that this story takes place before the plots of the movies.

Overall, this is just a strange fucking book that doesn’t even seem to care that much about the source material while overloading the reader with a bloated, convoluted mess that’s, at times, hard to follow.

Up to this point, this is the worst book of the lot. If the next one isn’t a massive improvement, I may take an even longer break from this series.

Rating: 4/10

Comic Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation – Hive

Published: March 27th, 2013
Written by: Brannon Braga, Terry Matalas
Art by: Joe Corroney
Based on: Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry

IDW Publishing, 105 Pages

Review:

This comic has been in my queue for awhile and that’s mainly due to me not being wowed by IDW Star Trek comics and because I’ve honestly lost interest in this franchise that I once loved because ever since the start of those J. J. Abrams films, over a decade ago now, shit’s just been going downhill.

That being said, this wasn’t bad but it wasn’t all that memorable or worthwhile either. It takes place in an alternate timeline, as everything Star Trek seems to do now, and despite trying its damnedest to be an over-the-top science fiction epic, it just falls flat.

Hive is about The Borg of all races needing help defeating an enemy even they can’t beat. In fact, they “fear” of their extinction and plea to the Federation to help them destroy an alien race from a different dimension. To me, the swerve and the trap were as clear as day from the get go.

Still, this was entertaining enough and it’s only 105 pages, which flew by like a breeze. I just never felt all that invested in it because it’s essentially an “Elseworlds tale” and the outcome doesn’t really matter or effect the franchise as a whole. And again, nothing in that franchise matters any more, as it’s all just bad fan fiction disguised as canon.

At least the art was good. 

Rating: 5.5/10

Comic Review: Daredevil – Epic Collection: A Touch of Typhoid

Published: January 13th, 2016
Written by: Ann Nocenti, Mike Baron, Fabian Nicieza
Art by: John Romita Jr., Ron Lim, Steve Ditko, Whilce Portacio

Marvel Comics, 465 Pages

Review:

The first issue of Daredevil that I ever picked up came from his stretch, collected here. This also covers about the first half of Ann Nocenti’s incredible Daredevil run. A run that sold me on the hero and made his comics ones that I would pickup monthly for years.

Other than the Typhoid Mary-centered issues, this is the first time that I’ve really reread Nocenti’s Daredevil material since the late ’80s/early ’90s.

Overall, this era is fucking great and if I’m being honest, I actually like it on the same level, if not more, than the Frank Miller era before it. While this can read lighter than Miller’s run, it still gets really damn dark and stays true to the core of what Daredevil became because of Miller.

What makes this even better and also keeps the tone right is the art by John Romita Jr. Even though I didn’t know it in 1989, when I first got hooked, Nocenti and Romita Jr. were one of the best creative duos of the time and certainly a better combination of writer and artist than Marvel has put together in modern times.

In my opinion, this is still Romita Jr.’s best work and the legacy he should hang his hat on. And yes, I say that knowing that he still works, today.

As far as the stories go, this starts with the debut of Typhoid Mary, which I’ve reviewed on its own (see here), but it also goes into some follow up stories with her character. This also happens during the major Inferno crossover event and sees Daredevil tie-up with demons and even Mephisto. In fact, the Mephisto-centric issue is one of the greatest Christmas comics ever produced.

This is just great. It’s one of the best stretches of my favorite comic book series. Revisiting it now didn’t leave me disappointed.

Rating: 9/10

Book Review: ‘Stormbringer’: Book Six of the Elric Saga’ by Michael Moorcock

While this isn’t the last of the Elric of Melniboné novels, it is the final one in the six-part Elric Saga. And with that, this is a pretty intense and satisfying finale.

I’ve enjoyed these books pretty f’n thoroughly. After spending the better part of a year reading through everything by Robert E. Howard I could get my hands on, switching over to Michael Moorcock’s stories of a hero that is essentially, Conan in reverse, was also a great experience. I do plan on reading more Elric books, as well as other non-Elric works by Moorcock.

As for this tale, I thought that it was the best since the first book. This is also the thickest of the series. But this is also because a lot happens here and this is the culmination of everything that has happened before it. Because it’s the last in the series, I don’t want to spoil any of the key details.

I will say that it packs a punch, wraps some things up pretty well and ultimately, leaves you sad that the “saga” is over while being very hungry for more.

Moorcock’s prose, as I’ve mentioned before, is just incredible and there’s almost this extra layer of confidence and familiarity in his writing, here, that it takes this to another level.

In the end, all I can do is hope that more people check out Moorcock’s work, especially the books in the Elric Saga.

Rating: 8.75/10

Comic Review: Batman: Three Jokers

Published: November 17th, 2020
Written by: Geoff Johns
Art by: Jason Fabok

DC Comics, 161 Pages

Review:

I enjoyed this story and its concept quite a bit. But generally, I’ve been a fan of Geoff Johns’ writing since he took over Green Lantern in the mid-’00s.

This isn’t really a canonical story but then again, nothing that’s modern DC really is to me anymore because they’ve rebooted their universe more times than my Uncle Terry has created children out of wedlock.

The story does directly build off of the events of classic Batman stories The Killing Joke and A Death In the Family. With that, it also utilizes Batgirl and Red Hood in the story, as it brings their issues with the Joker full circle and provides some closure to him crippling Batgirl and “killing” Red Hood when he was Robin.

The reason why the story is called “The Three Jokers” is because there are three Jokers. Each one represents a different version of the character, as he’s been used historically. One is the “criminal” Joker, another is the “comedian” Joker and the last is the “clown” Joker. The story plays off of their differences and the heroes aren’t sure which one is the real Joker or if possibly there’s been more than one all along. However, by the end, we see that there’s a much bigger, more sinister scheme at play and it’s revealed that Batman has always known who the real Joker is, all the way down to his real identity.

The story was very noir-esque, which isn’t uncommon for a Batman story but this one had so many curveballs that it just fits within that genre’s framework quite well.

Admittedly, I got to a point in the story where I started to think that the whole thing was ridiculous. By the end, though, it all came together in a really cool way and it seemed a lot less ridiculous and like something that would fit within the Joker’s larger worldview and his and Batman’s place in it.

I also really, really liked the art. I don’t know much about Jason Fabok but he captivated me, here, and I’ll be on the lookout for some of his other work. Frankly, I’d like to see him and Johns maybe work on a follow up to this and create their own unique continuity within Batman, similar to what Sean Gordon Murphy has been doing the last few years.

Rating: 8/10

Comic Review: X-Force – Epic Collection: Under the Gun

Published: March 22nd, 2017
Written by: Rob Liefeld, Fabian Nicieza, Todd McFarlane, various
Art by: Rob Liefeld, Greg Capullo, Todd McFarlane, Mike Mignola, Mark Pacella, Darick Robertson, Terry Shoemaker, various 

Marvel Comics, 463 Pages

Review:

Man, oh, f’n man… it’s been ages since I’ve read the Rob Liefeld era of X-Force. When I was a kid, I thought that this was the greatest new series Marvel had but I also think I was convincing myself of that, as Rob Liefeld was a hot commodity and I was also a fan of The New Mutants, which this was born out of. Besides, there was just so much hype at the time and I was at a pretty impressionable age.

Reading this now, I still found it really enjoyable and was surprised that I liked it as much as I did.

However, I also know that the story essentially came from Liefeld like bullet points and then it was handed to ace writer Fabian Nicieza, who actually wrote all the dialogue and massaged Liefeld’s notes into a usable script. After Liefeld left the series to co-found Image Comics, Nicieza stayed on as the writer and worked with other greats like Greg Capullo and Mike Mignola.

Now looking at the other side of this, creatively, the art isn’t great and even if I loved Liefeld when I was in 7th grade, I see the issues with his art much more clearly now. However, I don’t want to shit all over the guy like everyone else has done for years. I just notice the issues he has with anatomy and perspective.

It’s worth mentioning, though, that the art did improve once Liefeld stepped away, which happened about two-thirds into this collection.

As far as the story goes, I really got reinvested in this and want to keep reading it. Possibly beyond where I stopped when I was buying this month-after-month, which was about four or five years into the series.

Additionally, this also reminded me of how much I liked some of the long forgotten characters that were so cool in 1991. Characters like G.W. Bridge, Garrison Kane and the other people associated with them and Cable’s past.

Rating: 7.5/10

Book Review: ‘The Bane of the Black Sword: Book Five of the Elric Saga’ by Michael Moorcock

This, the fifth of the six books in the Elric Saga was a step up from the previous couple for me. While I’ve enjoyed all the books, up to this point, this one had more energy to it and Michael Moorcock seemed like he was really hitting his stride, here.

The Bane of the Black Sword introduces us to, Zarozinia, the woman who would become the real love of Elric’s life, despite his intense feelings for the deceased Cymoril. 

Also, Moorcock continues to expand his universe while building off of many of the things he’s established, thus far.

There are some bits in this that are slow but the good stuff makes up for that and the action and adventure are pretty solid, all around.

My only real gripe about this book, and the others as well, is that there always seems to be magical assistance that is too readily available to Elric. This has always been my issues with magic in fiction, in general. It should never be used as a “fix all”, as it diminishes the hero’s journey and their struggle.

However, this book has one hell of a payoff at the end, and it’s certainly full of a lot more positives than negatives.

Rating: 8.25/10