Comic Review: Captain America: Winter Soldier, Vol. 1

Published: March 1st, 2006
Written by: Ed Brubaker
Art by: Steve Epting, Michael Lark, J.P. Leon

Marvel Comics, 167 Pages

Review:

At the start of Ed Brubaker’s historic Captain America run, I wasn’t paying attention to comics. I found my way back to them around the time that Cap died, a few years into Brubaker’s tenure. So I never got to read the original Winter Soldier story.

I’ve got to say, this pretty much lives up to the hype. However, I’m only speaking as someone that’s read the first part, as the story covers two volumes.

So I don’t know how this will conclude or where it will go in the immediate future but this was a damn fine setup.

This may be the best and the most human Steve Rogers has ever been written. This explores the layers to his character and it does a fantastic job of giving the reader the right context without just relying on them to know Cap’s backstory. Additionally, it also doesn’t just dwell on the past and act as a lengthy modernized recap of those events.

I also love the art. And honestly, it’s the evolution of comic book art that really brought me back to the medium. And one of the books that lured me in was Captain America.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: the rest of Ed Brubaker’s Captain America run.

Vids I Dig 047: Cartoonist Kayfabe: Quarter Bin Haul (In 3 Parts)

Celebrate the return of Talking Pulp and Independence Day with these three lengthy and fantastic Cartoonist Kayfabe videos about Jim & Ed’s quarter bin hauls from this year’s Free Comic Book Day!

From Cartoonist Kayfabe’s YouTube description for Part 1: Jim unboxes a short box of comics from a recent quarter sale (New Dimension Comics at Pittsburgh Mills)!

From Cartoonist Kayfabe’s YouTube description for Part 2: Ed and Jim go through a box of quarter comics – mostly weird ’80s black and white books!

From Cartoonist Kayfabe’s YouTube description for Part 3: Ed and Jim go through a box of quarter comics – mostly weird ’80s black and white books!

Comic Review: Aliens/Vampirella

Published: July 6th, 2016
Written by: Corinna Sara Bechko
Art by: Javier Garcia-Miranda
Based on: Aliens by Dan O’Bannon & Ronald Shusett, Vampirella by Forrest J. Ackerman

Dynamite Entertainment, Dark Horse, 184 Pages

Review:

This crossover came out a few years back but I guess I didn’t notice it. 2016 was a weird year for me and I was working more than a normal human being should.

I was stoked to check this out now, though, as I’m a big fan of both the Alien franchise and Vampirella.

Overall, this was a pretty good, action packed, violent and intense comic. It even brought in some Nosferatu-looking vampires to mix it up with the alien xenomorphs. There’s this great sequence where a vampire bites a xenomorph in the neck and then has his face melted off from the acid blood.

I only have two complaints about Aliens/Vampirella.

The first and most important is that this is a Vampirella comic. Therefore, why the hell is she wearing a jumpsuit throughout the entire story? You only see her in her regular outfit in one panel where she first wakes up from deep sleep due to space travel. After that panel, she’s dressed like a Ghostbuster for all six issues.

For those bitching about how her outfit objectifies women, you’ve probably never read Vampirella. Also, comic books are a visual artistic medium that presents its heroes in ideal forms. It’s not real, it’s escapism and entertainment. It’s fantasy and when there are hot girls in my fantasy, they aren’t wearing jumpsuits. She should be in her traditional outfit or a variation of it. I mean, you don’t dress up Batman like an accountant, do you?

The second complaint is that once you get to the end, it ends really abruptly. It’s like, “Ha! We escaped!” Then, “Boom! The End!” It doesn’t wreck the comic but it felt like it could have been paced a bit better to pad out the conclusion a wee bit more.

Other than that, I liked the story for the most part and the art was mostly solid. Some panels, but very few, felt like they were rushed.

In the end, this was a fun read for fans of either or both franchises.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other Vampirella and Alien crossovers, as both franchises have had many.

Comic Review: Star Trek Vs. Transformers

Published: June 12th, 2019
Written by: John Barber, Mike Johnson
Art by: Jack Lawrence, Philip Murphy
Based on: Transformers by Hasbro, Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry

IDW Publishing, 118 Pages

Review:

What I found most interesting about this is that it was a crossover of the animated Star Trek series and the original animated Transformers show. When I first heard about this crossover, I wasn’t sure how they would bring the two franchises together but this was certainly the best approach and definitely better than mixing the terrible Michael Bay Transformers movies with the Kelvin timeline Star Trek stuff.

Overall, this was amusing and I enjoyed the art style.

However, the story is just decent and didn’t do much to really maximize the properties. Its also full of predictable things like the Enterprise transforming into a robot, in this case, a version of Fortress Maximus.

Also, the Decepticons team up with the Klingons, which sort of fits a trope of these IDW crossovers, which is villain team ups to offset hero team ups. I’m not saying that the trope is bad, it just makes these events predictable and formulaic.

Star Trek Vs. Transformers isn’t a bad crossover, it just falls short due to it being more of the same, despite the franchises featured. It’s like IDW has a checklist with every crossover and the writers have to check off every single box.

The truth is, I love checking out crossovers like this. Unfortunately, the output is really redundant and it’s kind of killing my interest in seeing different intellectual properties collide.

Rating: 5.75/10
Pairs well with: other IDW crossovers between famous franchises.

Comic Review: Detective Comics: Medieval

Published: April 10th, 2019 – June 12th, 2019
Written by: Peter J. Tomasi
Art by: Brad Walker, Andrew Hennessy, Nathan Fairbairn, Max Raynor

DC Comics, 110 Pages

Review:

Be forewarned, I can’t really get into this without spoiling parts of the plot, as well as the Arkham Knight video game.

When I first heard that the Arkham Knight was being introduced into the comic book continuity, I was really excited, as I love the Arkham video games and especially loved the Arkham Knight game.

However, I also wondered how they would do this, as the Arkham Knight was revealed to be Jason Todd, the Red Hood and once former Robin. Jason Todd certainly couldn’t also be the Arkham Knight in the comics, so I knew it would be a different person altogether. I just didn’t have an idea as to who it was and what their backstory and motivations would be.

I’ve been a fan of Peter J. Tomasi’s work over the last few years, so I had high hopes that he’d give us something compelling with this. But sadly, I was a bit let down.

The Arkham Knight in the comic book continuity is the daughter of Jeremiah Arkham, the head of Arkham Asylum. Her birth name is Astrid and she appears in Gotham City with the Knights of the Sun, an order of her own creation. They are a group motivated by their ideals, as opposed to material gain like many of Gotham’s more famous criminals.

Her backstory sees her born in Arkham Asylum during a riot. The Joker, along with several other famous inmates, deliver her amongst the chaos of the riot. Her mother is killed during the riot by one of Batman’s batarangs, which was thrown by one of the Arkham inmates.

Astrid, as a kid, used to interact with a lot of the Arkham inmates and through that, developed her hatred of Batman. She learns that one of his batarangs was the instrument that killed her mother and her hatred intensifies. Ideally, she wants to take control of Gotham away from Batman.

The story then has her use a really weird superweapon that is basically an artificial sun, which is to reveal Batman as a demon to the citizens of Gotham. Batman and Robin are able to stop her before she uses her sun to permanently blind everyone in the city. However, she escapes and will go on to fight another day.

The story started out fairly well but it took so many strange turns that it pulled me right out of it and I just found myself rolling my eyes with every new reveal. That’s not to say that Astrid Arkham won’t develop into a cool character but the backstory is a mess. From the Joker delivering a baby to a fake sun superweapon, this was a bizarre story that just didn’t work for me and certainly didn’t deliver in the way that the Arkham Knight video game story did.

I was hoping for something more akin to the game that saw Gotham fall into a total state of decay with gangs running the city, police hiding in their precincts and Batman taking to the streets to fight a sea of gang members, high tech tanks and a plethora of supervillains.

Honestly, this could have done that and been the basis for a solid major event.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: most of the recent regular Batman comics.

Comic Review: The Incredible Hulk: Last Call

Published: June 5th, 2019
Written by: Peter David
Art by: Dale Keown

Marvel Comics, 33 Pages

Review:

I’ve never been a massive fan of The Incredible Hulk, except for the Peter David and Dale Keown era. It was the era that I read when I really started getting into superhero comics beyond just Batman, Spider-Man and X-Men titles.

This one-shot is the first of several that Marvel is doing, which feature the reunification of some of the most iconic creative teams on the books where their work was most beloved.

What I really dug about Last Call was that it channels a lot of the material from the David/Keown era. The story is about Banner on a suicide hotline, talking to a girl that Betty Ross knew. Banner is suicidal but there is a part of him that doesn’t want to follow through, as he’s trying to find some resolution for his soul and all the trauma he’s endured due to the chaos he feels responsible for. Unlike Mister Miracle, there is enough historical context to understand why the Hulk is in this state of mind.

Ultimately, he finds some peace within the 33 pages of this short story. The girl on the other end of the phone helps him get some clarity and a brief scuffle with Mr. Hyde also helps him put it all into perspective.

Despite the subject matter, this doesn’t come off as a depressing read, by the end. It gives you hope for the Hulk and the tortured Banner that feels as if he has no control over the green man’s rage.

As far as the art goes. I enjoyed seeing Keown return to the Hulk but this does look rushed and I feel like it was, as this one-shot had four different inkers on the book. It lacks the great detail that Keown was known for on The Incredible Hulk and Pitt but it still hits its mark in the right way. I just wish that these guys had more time to give us something more refined.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: the classic Peter David and Dale Keown run on The Incredible Hulk, as well as the current title, The Immortal Hulk by Al Ewing.

Book Review: ‘The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains: Oddball Criminals from Comic Book History’ by Jon Morris

I wanted something lighthearted and fun to read in regards to comic book history. Well, this was exactly that.

This is a good collection of info on a lot of the lowest tier villains throughout comic book history. This goes all the way back to the golden age and works forward through time.

This was a nice, amusing read with a lot of entries featuring dozens of weird baddies. However, my only real complaint is that I wish it had more info on a lot of these characters.

Granted, I understand that many of these were one-off, failed villains, but as you get to the more modern ones, several villains there have had longer, richer histories and it would’ve been cool to have seen more on that.

This isn’t a must own, as almost all of this info exists for free online and these chapters read more like quick Wikipedia articles but for just a few bucks on Kindle, I certainly felt like I got my money’s worth.

There are also other installments that focus on lame heroes and goofy sidekicks.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: the other books in this series. There’s one about heroes and one about sidekicks.