Comic Review: Transformers: Infestation 2

Published: February, 2012
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Guido Guidi
Based on: Transformers by Hasbro

IDW Publishing, 57 Pages

Review:

IDW’s Infestation crossovers have been a mixed bag. Mostly, they are just okay but I do like the Infestation 2 event more than the first one. The first dealt with zombies while the second is more creative and cool in that it deals with Lovecraftian horrors.

I had higher hopes for this one than the others I’ve read, as it is written by Chuck Dixon, a guy who wrote some of my favorite BatmanG.I. Joe and Punisher stories over the years.

So out of the ones I’ve read thus far, I liked this the best.

Dixon did a pretty good job of merging the Transformers and Lovecraftian worlds together. I wasn’t sure if it would work out, as the previous Transformers Infestation story didn’t connect for me. But Dixon’s writing served the story well and the art by Guido Guidi really brought it all together stylisitically and tonally.

My only issue with it was that two issues isn’t enough real estate to truly explore this idea. Not a lot happens and this is all sort of over pretty abruptly. That’s not Dixon’s fault and he penned a solid tale within the constraints he had to do so.

Ultimately, this was a satisfactory installment of the Infestation stories.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: Other releases in IDW’s multi-franchise Infestation and Infestation 2 crossovers.

Comic Review: Batman Arkham – Killer Croc

Published: June 28th, 2016
Written by: various
Art by: various

DC Comics, 291 Pages

Review:

Killer Croc is a Batman villain that I have dug since I first read a story with him in it in the late ’80s. I’m glad that he has had staying power and is now pretty close to being an B+ level villain in the Batman and larger DC mythos.

This collection, like the other Batman Arkham villain compilations features a dozen or so stories focused on this specific character, all from different eras with a slew of different writers and artists.

But in the case of this book, that kind of hurts the overall compilation.

Now most of the writing is good with stories by Chuck Dixon, Doug Moench, Gerry Conway, Tim Seeley and others. It’s the big style variance in art that damages the overall presentation.

The problem is that most of the stories featured here are from the ’90s. At the time, DC Comics had a lot of artists that experimented with a lot of different art styles. Most of the stuff here looks like ’90s indie stuff that is trying way too hard to be edgy and extreme. A lot of it comes off like massive eye sores and the strong contrast in style from chapter to chapter is kind of jarring. But this is a compilation and these things happen when you’re wedging a dozen or so stories into the same book.

However, this collection also brings to light one of my biggest gripes about the Killer Croc character and that’s that everyone draws him differently. Sometimes he’s just a jacked dude with scaly skin and other times he’s the size of the Hulk with an actual crocodile looking head, snout and all. I’ve never been a fan of his inconsistent look and some of these artists go too wild with it.

Being mostly a product of the ’90s we also get some over the top violence in one story in particular, which sees Killer Croc literally chomp a woman in half. While that stuff doesn’t bother me, it seemed out of place in the book and just reminded me of a time when DC Comics seemed like they were trying too hard to fit within what they thought were the times.

I did enjoy this collection, despite my gripes about it. They could only work with what they had in their library but I can’t believe that some of these are considered the best Killer Croc tales. Maybe someone needs to step up and do the character some justice, treat him with care and give us something with more meat.

I also found it odd that none of his Suicide Squad stuff was here, as some of those stories really build up the character in interesting ways.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: Other Batman Arkham collections.

Comic Review: Doom: The Emperor Returns

Published: 2001-2002
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Leonardo Manco

Marvel Comics, 67 Pages

Review:

I dug the hell out of this miniseries when I read it over a dozen years ago. Because of that, I wanted to revisit it.

I typically love Chuck Dixon’s writing and as interesting as this story is, the greatness of Dixon is eclipsed here by the stupendous art of Leonardo Manco.

This book looks absolutely dynamite! While I might not be huge on Manco’s design for Doom’s mask in this story, everything else looks great. I especially liked the look of Doctor Octopus and the evil Celestial character.

Now the story is a bit batshit. It’s shows Doom rise to power on a planet of his own design. Even though he achieves control over his domain, as he’s always wanted, he does grow somewhat bored with his position. He feels empty and incomplete. It sort of harkens back to the David Michelinie Emperor Doom storyline from 1987.

While all this is going on, Franklin Richards is a part of the story and things seem strange. By the end, Doom’s empire crumbles but he is also brought back into the real realm. It’s kind of complicated to explain but I don’t want to ruin the story for those interested in checking it out.

Chuck Dixon crafted a well thought out and interesting tale that peeled back some layers on the Doom character and his motivations while staying true to the great stories before this.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: Doom by the same creative team, as well as the Emperor Doom graphic novel.

Comic Review: Jungle Comics, Issue #1

Published: May, 2019
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Kelsey Shannon

Antarctic Press, 32 Pages

Review:

I backed this on Indiegogo awhile ago but I guess I could’ve just bought it off of the shelf before it actually shipped to me. But that seems to be the case with most crowdfunded projects that get picked up by Antarctic Press.

Still, this was pretty inexpensive and I was pretty happy with the end result once I got this in my hands.

I’ve been reading comics by Chuck Dixon since the ’80s and the guy wrote one of my favorite runs on G.I. Joe, so I’ll support most of the projects he’s involved in.

Plus, I’ve really come to enjoy the art of Kelsey Shannon. When the dude is on his A game, he’s one of the top guys working today. In fact, I’m surprised more people aren’t scooping him up. Unless they are and future projects haven’t been announced yet.

This comic is like a time machine though. It takes the reader back to an era where jungle comics were actually a thing in pop culture. It was a popular genre back when Tarzan was a popular fictional character in the mainstream.

This does feel like a more modern take on the genre and the second story in the comic has a sci-fi twist to it. But it still captures the spirit of the pulp stories from over a half century ago.

If future issues come out, I’ll probably give them a shot. This is listed, officially, as part 1 of 4, so I guess we’ll see.

Although, I don’t know if Dixon and Shannon are involved going forward.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: I guess future releases of Jungle Comics by Antarctic Press.

Comic Review: Batman: Knightfall, Book III

Published: 1993-1994
Written by: Doug Moench, Chuck Dixon, Alan Grant
Art by: various

DC Comics, 645 Pages

Review:

Well, I should start this by saying that Knightfall, Book III was much better than Book II but it still wasn’t on the level of the vastly superior Book I.

Azrael is still Batman at the start of the story but Bruce Wayne comes back to claim the title and eventually outwits Azrael, exposing him as a total wackadoo. This surprisingly happens in the first third of this thick collection of issues. But I was fine with that, as Azrael’s horribly designed ’90s extreme cliche of a costume was hurting my eyes and my logical brain.

The second third of this book follows the aftermath of the massive Knightfall storyline while the last third of the book is a storyline called Prodigal.

I really liked the aftermath and Prodigal stuff, as even though Batman takes the mantle back, he then leaves and gives the reigns over to Dick Grayson, the original Robin and current Nightwing. Seeing Grayson as Batman with Tim Drake still as Robin was a neat experiment and was fun to read for fans of both of those characters.

There is a pretty large story involving Two-Face within the larger Prodigal crossover event and that was the highlight of this collection for me. But we also get good bits with Killer Croc, who hadn’t been seen since Bane broke both of his arms, and the Ventriloquist. I also enjoyed the Catwoman stuff.

Knightfall, Book III really salvages the gigantic epic after Book II kind of shit the bed. And in the end, I’m glad that I committed to reading the nearly 2000 pages of the Knightfall saga.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: the other books in the Knightfall saga, as well as pretty much any Batman story from the ’90s.

Comic Review: Batman: Knightfall, Book II

Published: 1993-1994
Written by: Doug Moench, Chuck Dixon, Alan Grant
Art by: various

DC Comics, 643 Pages

Review:

I really loved the first book in this series. However, this one was a big drop off from the events of the first.

The main reason is due to Batman not being in this book until the very end. This was the ’90s and Azrael was Batman and he was a walking ’90s cliche in the worst way possible. For a fan of what Batman is and what the spirit of his comics are, this doesn’t fit that mold.

Now I get that this “breaking of the mold” schtick was intentional, it just doesn’t make for good reading outside of a decade where violent antiheroes were the norm. I understand why people are nostalgic for this huge mega event that spanned a year or so but I didn’t read this when it was current and I’m looking at it with fresh eyes.

The fault doesn’t necessarily fall on the writers as there are things I enjoy about the writing but Azrael is such an unlikable asshole, which he’s supposed to be, that I want to see him fail and I can’t cheer for him. But being that he is the star of this saga, at this point, really bogs the overall tale down.

Plus, I hate his costume, it’s hard on the eyes, completely nonsensical and where are the other heroes in the DC universe that wouldn’t let this guy operate like a maniac. Doesn’t Tim Drake have Superman’s phone number? Robin is just sitting around waiting for Bruce to come home? Why doesn’t he talk to Gordon about it and develop a plan to bring in the Justice League?

I think that this also suffers from a complete lack of Bane, who was defeated at the end of Book I. I guess I had always assumed that Bane as a threat stretched across all three giant books in this saga.

This installment is also mostly devoid of villains that we know and care about. It’s as if new villains were brought in to establish a new generation of rogues for Azrael to face but they all mostly fall flat and weren’t really seen again or in any significant way after this lengthy epic.

In the end, Bruce Wayne comes back to Gotham and is disgusted by how his legacy has been handled by his hand picked successor. So hopefully the third book gets things back to form. But at the same time, why in the holy hell did Bruce Wayne choose Azrael to be the next Batman? His track record before this was shit.

Anyway, I’m hoping that the third and final book rights the ship.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: the other books in the Knightfall saga, as well as pretty much any Batman story from the ’90s.

Comic Review: Strike!

Published: 1987-1988
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Tom Lyle, Romeo Tanghal, Don Gidley

Eclipse Comics, 203 Pages

Review:

My review here covers Strike! issues 1 through 6, as well as the Strike! Vs. Sgt. Strike one-shot that capped off the story.

I wanted to read this, as I used to see Eclipse titles a lot when I was really young but I never picked them up because I was a Marvel/DC snob. Also, I’m a fan of Chuck Dixon and this was something he wrote early in his career before achieving greatness with BatmanThe Punisher and his epic run on G.I. Joe, a few years ago.

This comic was entertaining, energetic and colorful. I really liked it and it made me disappointed in my nine year-old self for sleeping on the indies in an era where there were so many great titles to choose from outside of BatmanSpider-ManX-Men and G.I. Joe.

The story follows a teenager living in the harshest parts of Baltimore. One of his best friends has become a major drug dealer in the community and other gangs tend to be a problem for the law abiding good people of the neighborhood. When the teen finds a special belt, hidden in his attic, it gives him super strength and physical invulnerability. Initially, he uses his powers to steal money from his drug dealer friend in an effort to better his and his mother’s lives. But ultimately, he grows, matures and becomes a hero.

The comic is an attempt at creating a modern adaptation of a public domain comic book character from the 1940s: Sgt. Strike. This was given a youthful, urban twist and some of the dialogue is kind of cringy in 2019 with the over the top street slang and for some pages having “faggot” on them every other panel. However, this is also a product of its time and colorful, expletive language helped sell comics to kids that mostly just had family friendly superheroes to choose from.

Strike! is a fun, late ’80s, action, crime, sci-fi story. There are gangsters, aliens and flashback stories to World War II featuring the original Sgt. Strike. It’s maybe even a bit ahead of its time as it sort of fits with the ’90s “extreme” edgy boy shit that ran rampant through comics a few years later.

What this made me realize, is that I need to pickup and review more titles from Eclipse.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other comics from Eclipse.