Published: April 27th, 2016
Written by: Jason Aaron
Art by: Chris Bachalo
Marvel Comics, 115 Pages
It’s been awhile since I’ve read Doctor Strange. I used to love picking up back issues of stuff from the ’70s and ’80s when I was a kid. But I didn’t like much of the late ’90s or ’00s stuff. But I heard good things about Jason Aaron’s run, so I figured I’d start at the beginning and give it a shot.
This was a pretty fun read and it’s creative, as well as interesting. I also really liked the art style.
My only real complaint is that this Doctor Strange doesn’t seem like the same character I enjoyed in his classic stories. He’s lacking the sense of authority one got from him in the ’70s and ’80s and here he is just kind of quirky and goofy.
Despite that, it’s not a big distraction, it’s just that the character feels off. It’s also very salvageable moving forward and it doesn’t deter me from reading more from Aaron. Hopefully, he finds his footing a bit more after this first story arc.
The threat here also doesn’t feel as big as the story makes it out to be. I guess I’ll have to see what’s next but knowing what Doctor Strange has faced before, this threat seemed lame and unconvincing. Sure, all other Sorcerer Supremes from other realms and worlds are gone but the story still feels thin and is missing the weight of that.
I’ll give the second volume a shot in the very near future, so I hope that sort of rights the ship.
Pairs well with: Jason Aaron’s other Doctor Strange stories.
Published: October 25th, 2006
Written by: Mike Carey, Michael Avon Oeming
Art by: Mel Rubi
Based on: Red Sonya by Robert E. Howard, Red Sonja by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith
Dynamite Entertainment, 211 Pages
I’ve been enjoying the current run of Red Sonja by Dynamite Entertainment, so I wanted to go back and read some of the older collections. While this doesn’t click for me in the same way as the classic ’70s and ’80s Marvel stuff, it’s still a really good read.
I definitely dig the art style of Mel Rubi and it fits the character, the world and the tone of the narrative.
This is a good reintroduction to the character and her personality is spot on. I even like that there is a little quip early on that justifies Red Sonja’s armor choice. Especially since it’s been a bone of contention with modern cultural busybodies that hate art and escapism.
Red Sonja is just a badass character. She doesn’t give a crap what her critics think about her and she’d probably just decapitate them if she deemed it worth breaking a sweat.
But all in all, this was a really cool start to this long running ongoing series. It doesn’t establish a whole lot apart from reminding us of who Sonja is. However, it leaves things open for a slew of grand adventures.
Ultimately, I look forward to reading more volumes in the She-Devil With a Sword series.
Pairs well with: other Red Sonja comics by Dynamite, as well as the classic Marvel Red Sonja stories.
Written by: Brian Azzarello
Art by: Lee Bermejo
DC Comics, 130 Pages
When this came out in 2008, I thought it was pretty badass. It hasn’t aged well though.
But I guess my changed feelings on it now is because I’ve aged as a comic book reader and the character of the Joker just doesn’t feel right in this. Also, the plot is very thin and this mostly just follows a regular guy who finds himself pulled into the Joker’s orbit on the day that the criminal madman is released from Arkham Asylum.
I know that this came out at the same time as 2008’s The Dark Knight and that it was made to capitalize off of that highly anticipated movie. In fact, the actual look of the Joker here, is much more in tune with Heath Ledger’s Joker than the regular comic book Joker.
The story does not tie to the movies though and it exists within Brian Azzarello’s own version of the Batman universe. But in an era where comic book franchise constantly get rebooted, what the hell is canon anymore?
I do like the art style and the character design is good for most of the key characters. Although, the look of the Riddler is more cringe than the current Tom King Riddler, who I absolutely hate.
Reading this now, this just feels like some edgy boy shit that’s trying too hard to be hardcore and extreme but never actually has the balls to cross the line like DC Comics did at the height of its classic Vertigo titles.
I think that this story ties into Azzarello’s current Batman: Damned series but I’m not 100 percent sure on that, as I’m waiting to read that series once all the issues come out.
Pairs well with: other Brian Azzarello comics, especially the recent Batman: Damned series.
Published: 1978 – 1980
Written by: Roy Thomas
Art by: Walt Simonson
Marvel Comics, 203 Pages
After reading Jack Kirby’s The Eternals and it sort of ending abruptly, I had to see where the story picked up. Well, the Eternals and their story shifted over to the regular Thor title where we got to see the most famous Asgardian and his realm mix it up with the Eternals, the Deviants and the Celestials.
I’ve got to say, merging these two pockets of the Marvel universe into one big story that stretched over twenty issues was a really natural fit and a very cool way to up the ante and bring the Eternals into the larger Marvel canon.
Now Jack Kirby wasn’t working on the continuation of the Eternals story once it moved on into the pages of The Mighty Thor but Roy Thomas does a fine job with the story and Walt Simonson’s art felt like a natural extension of what Kirby established.
This is true to the source material that Kirby established and I loved reading this as much as I did the original Eternals title.
Overall, this is an incredibly exciting epic that merges Norse mythology with the cosmic Kirby style in a way that feels seamless and fills the void I felt after The Eternals came to its end.
Pairs well with: Jack Kirby’s The Eternals, which is set before this big saga.
Written by: Dave Swartz
Art by: Joseph Cooper, Wes Locher
Alterna Comics, 93 Pages
I wasn’t sure what this comic was about before getting into it but I was pleasantly surprised by it and I think that it’s one of the best comics Alterna has put out.
The comic takes in you in many different directions and it is best not to know much about the plot beforehand. This has some famous scientists at the center of the story but I don’t want to ruin anything.
There are twists, curveballs and some cool reveals as the story progresses over its three issues. Based off of how this ends, I don’t think that it would have a follow up but I would check out anything else that this creative team could do together in the future.
The writing was great, the art was fantastic and I especially loved the colors in this and how well all the art looked on newsprint.
I wish I could talk more about the plot but I would rather people just go out and pick this up. For being three issues priced at $1.50 a piece, you can get this stupendous tale for a lot less than a standard trade paperback or graphic novel.
Pairs well with: other sci-fi comics from Alterna.
Published: October 25th, 2016
Written by: various
Art by: various
DC Comics, 394 Pages
I love when DC Comics puts out massive compilations like this that celebrate big moments from the entire history of a character. Being that I never really read a lot of really old Aquaman stuff made this a big treat.
This goes all the way back to the earliest stories and gives us a good selection of tales from just about every era and decade since.
There are modern stories here but this focuses mostly on the old stuff. Especially first appearances (or very early appearances) of key characters from the Aquaman mythos. We see the debuts of the original Aquagirl, Aqualad, Ocean Master, Mera and some very early encounters with Oceanus and Black Manta.
We also get a lot of cameos from Aquaman’s Justice League allies from different eras. This has lots of cameos but all the stories are very Aquaman-centric, as opposed to wedging in Justice League stories where Arthur Curry isn’t the primary focus.
This is a thick, solid volume. It’s a bit pricey but I got the digital version of it really cheap during an Aquaman sale on Comixology. I think I paid less than $5, which to me, was an absolute steal.
If you want to know more about the Aquaman character’s history, this is a great starting point.
Pairs well with: other recent DC Comics compilations celebrating milestone anniversaries.
Published: April 10th, 2019
Written by: Frank Tieri
Art by: Danilo Beyruth, Joshua Cassara (cover)
Marvel Comics, 35 Pages
I’m not really sure where the Venom series is going other than it has been working towards the return of Carnage for what I assume will be a massive Venom versus Carnage showdown.
Since last year’s Venom number 1 and the other Web of Venom one-shots, Donny Cates has mostly been at the helm and he’s done a pretty stupendous job. However, he’s seemingly left Venom behind to focus on Guardians of the Galaxy and the upcoming relaunch of Silver Surfer. That being said, this one-shot was written by Frank Tieri, who I mostly only know from his work on DC Comics’ Harley Quinn, as well as Jughead: The Hunger and a Red Sonja miniseries.
Overall, the story here was quite good. There was a bit of cheesy dialogue in one or two panels but not enough the detract from the proceedings.
Venom is nowhere to be found in this story, which is fine, but with his name in the title, I thought maybe he’d be around. In his place are Man-Wolf, a character I’ve always loved, and Misty Knight. We also get an inside look at this cult that has sprung up. The cult worships a strange god but it is really all a front for the returned Carnage, who has big plans that will most assuredly see him cross paths with Venom once again.
I liked the art and the tone of this was good.
These Web of Venom one-shots have all been pretty enjoyable and I like that they kind of feel like scenes edited out of the larger movie. They aren’t necessary to read with the regular Venom comic but they add more context than what you would get from just the primary title.
Pairs well with: the recent Donny Cates Venom series and its Web of Venom spinoffs.