Comic Review: Cyberfrog: Bloodhoney

Published: September, 2019
Written by: Ethan Van Sciver
Art by: Ethan Van Sciver, Kyle Ritter

All Caps Comics, 80 Pages

Review:

There was about a ten year period where I checked out of comics from the late ’90s until the late ’00s. But what brought me back was the artwork of the era and primarily, the work of Ethan Van Sciver on Green Lantern. At the time, I didn’t know who Ethan was, I was just captivated by his detail, as well as the colors of those books.

It wasn’t until later that I learned more about him and sought out a lot more of his work and frankly, I always found it breathtaking and it’s kind of responsible for re-igniting my love for the comic book medium.

So when I had heard that Van Sciver was leaving DC due to some bullshit involving politics and comic industry insanity, I wanted to follow him into whatever his next big endeavor would be.

Cyberfrog: Bloodhoney is the first part of a four-part story arc. Also, it resurrects a character that Ethan created while at Harris Comics in the ’90s. Initially, I wasn’t a huge fan of the concept but the art that he showed, leading up to the launch of his campaign was all high quality stuff and some of his best work. So I got in on his crowdfunding campaign fairly early.

It was a hell of a waiting game, however, as this was two months shy of being a year late. While that was frustrating, once I got the book in my hand, all that sort of vanished and I was just ecstatic to have it and to finally be able to read it.

What I saw, page after page, was an exceptional work of art. This was, visually, the greatest thing that Ethan Van Sciver has ever done. Seeing the incredible detail on every single page makes me realize that this needed a lot more time than Ethan initially planned for. Plus, the book doubled in size since it was first announced. That doesn’t excuse it being as late as it was but I hope Ethan has learned from this process and will give us more accurate dates on his future campaigns.

This wasn’t just Ethan’s baby though, as a lot of the credit has to go to colorist Kyle Ritter. While Ethan is a top notch illustrator, Ritter’s colors truly take this to another level. Ritter is absolutely a top talent in the comic book industry beyond just his color work. But I’m so glad that he got this gig, was able to show the world what he was capable of and I’m looking forward to his upcoming StarBlades comic.

As far as the story goes, Ethan also wrote this. However, that’s the one aspect of this project where I had some reservations. Not because I didn’t think he could do it but because he doesn’t have much experience as an actual comic book writer. However, working with a guy like Geoff Johns for as long as he did, he probably picked some things up.

While I can’t say that this is as good of a story as the Green Lantern books that Ethan worked on, this is still a better written comic book than what has become the industry standard in 2019. Ethan very clearly has a vision for these characters and where he wants to take them and it all just comes together and works magnificently.

Although, I’ve heard some people complain a bit about the book’s structure and how it’s third act just kind of ends in the middle of the story. I had no problem with this whatsoever, as it seemed to end in a natural place for a story that is going to have three more installments. I won’t spoil how this ends but it is satisfying, after what the first act in this issue laid out for us.

Ultimately, this was pretty fantastic. Ethan Van Sciver made a damn good comic book and even if the concept itself didn’t grab me, after experiencing it, I’m now invested and looking forward to the rest of the story. That means that this did its job and it actually exceeded my expectations.

Also, I didn’t give a shit about the chromium cover but after seeing it, the cover looks absolutely incredible.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: Ethan’s Green Lantern and Flash stuff, as well as the original Cyberfrog run at Harris Comics.

Vids I Dig 081: Literature Devil: A Look at King Baby a.k.a. Mark Waid (In 3 Parts)

From Literature Devil’s YouTube description (Part 1): The favorite weapon of those in charge has always been to censor “rogue thinkers.” And let’s not kid ourselves…a Republican may be in the White House…but the far left is not only still in charge, but they’re actively shutting down competing opinions. And there have been few better examples of the left-wing censor in action…than what happened during the Jawbreakers fiasco.

From Literature Devil’s YouTube description (Part 2): Let’s take a journey into the marvelously malicious mind of a madman.

From Literature Devil’s YouTube description (Part 3): How do you think Meyer v Waid will go? Let’s take a look. (Yes – I got that idea from the Hugbox Chronicles. Watch and you’ll know what part I’m talking about)

Vids I Dig 068: Literature Devil: Is Comicsgate Wrong? (In 4 Parts)

From Literature Devil’s YouTube description (Part 1): ComicsGate claims that modern Marvel’s diversity-focused comics are far inferior to the works of the past. Are they blinded by hate and nostalgia or do they have a point?

From Literature Devil’s YouTube description (Part 2): So maybe Diversity Marvel isn’t about superhero battles or heroes fighting villains. Maybe it’s about character development. Let’s try tackling this question from a different angle.

From Literature Devil’s YouTube description (Part 3): Before we get into the grand finale of Is Comicsgate Wrong? I went ahead and addressed the most interesting counter-arguments sent my way. Watch to the end… I’ve tossed in a little hint on what the FINAL BATTLE will cover.

From Literature Devil’s YouTube description (Part 4): All things come to an end. One last battle to see which side is right and which side is wrong. Also, special announcements at the end.

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: Bigfoot Bill: Shadow of the Mothman

Published: March, 2019
Written by: Doug TenNapel
Art by: Doug TenNapel, Kelsey Shannon, Katherine Garner

Doug TenNapel, 96 Pages

Review:

I’ve got to say, this was the most fun I’ve had reading a comic book this year. Doug TenNapel did a stupendous job in creating this graphic novel and I have to say that this was the best end result out of anything I have ever helped crowd fund.

I have absolutely no buyer’s remorse in supporting this and I actually have some disappointment in not picking up the sketchbook TenNapel did, as well as an extra copy. The finished product was presented beautifully and in fact, when I opened the package, I was completely stunned, smiling ear to ear. And because of that, this didn’t get added to my read pile, instead I immediately sat down and read this cover to cover.

The book was energetic, hilarious and I loved the title character immediately. This is something that doesn’t happen in 2019 but TenNapel crafted a fun world with depth, character and a real spirit.

I’ve always enjoyed cryptozoology being that I have grown up around the Everglades. While I don’t believe in the local legends like the Skunk Ape, I have always been fascinated by the idea of them. TenNapel did a fantastic job at creating a lovable Bigfoot character, as well as other cryptids with rich and unique personalities.

The story serves to set up a larger world that we will hopefully be able to see these characters live in for years to come.

The art was superb and I really loved the colors, which were provided by Kelsey Shannon and Katherine Garner.

Everything about this book is perfect.

In the end, I’m just glad to say that Bigfoot Bill was right up my alley and I loved every panel of it. I’m incredibly enthused about what could come next from Doug TenNapel.

Rating: 10/10
Pairs well with: other Doug TenNapel graphic novels and I’m sure, his future Bigfoot Bill releases.

Vids I Dig 005: Douglas Ernst Mentions Talking Pulp’s Twitter Page and Parody Comic

This is from back in October of 2018 but when there were a lot of developments regarding the lawsuit between Richard C. Meyer and Mark Waid, I was making a parody G.I. Joe comic about it. YouTube commentator Douglas Ernst brought it up in a video. Talking Pulp is mentioned starting around 4:07.

Comic Review: Graveyard Shift

Published: February, 2019
Written by: Mark Poulton
Art by: Jon Malin, Anthony George, Eric Weathers

Haunted Pizza, 46 Pages

Review:

*The featured image is from the interior. I couldn’t find a JPG of the cover.

Man, this comic book is so ’90s! Which is a great thing for some people and a not so great thing for others. Being that I’m a fan of the ’90s, I found this mostly enjoyable.

What sold me on the project is that it was said to be like X-Men mixed with the Universal Monsters franchise. While that’s not quite the vibe I got from it, I do like the idea of there being a superhero team comprised of classic literary monsters, even if it’s not a wholly original idea.

Also, the series’ title isn’t that original, as Image Comics already had a series called Graveyard Shift just a few years ago from 2014 through 2015.

While I enjoy Malin’s art for the most part, the criticisms I had in my Jawbreakers review still apply here. The characters still look overly sleek and svelte with elongated limbs and uncomfortable looking poses. Now I’m not talking about the dynamic motion stuff, that’s all fine; I’m talking about the poses that see them just standing around. He definitely has his own anatomical style but it doesn’t always work for me. That being said, Malin is still better than what the industry standard is in 2019. Most of his women look the same though, throughout all of his work. They just have variances in hair color, hair length and skin tone.

I was also critical of how the action flowed in Richard C. Meyer’s Jawbreakers and I saw that as maybe an issue with the writing on Meyer’s part but having now read Graveyard Shift, I see similar problems. Sometimes I can’t tell what’s happened from panel to panel without having to go back and examine the previous one harder.

There is also some nonsensical stuff thrown in, which I guess is writer Mark Poulton’s sense of humor. Some of it feels odd, out of place and the gag doesn’t always work. There is one panel with a pregnant news reporter in the background with her bare belly exposed and half of her tits hanging out. In the next panel, there is a massive explosion behind her and we see her screaming as her belly bursts open, ejecting the fetus from within it. I don’t get it, man. That’s some hardcore ’90s edgy boi shit but it made me stop reading and I had to stare at it, baffled, distracted and completely dumbfounded by the whole thing. It was random as shit, added nothing to the story and hurts the book, overall. I wasn’t offended by it, I was just puzzled by it. And from a physics standpoint, it makes no sense.

Additionally, the cover for this was weak. I’m glad that Malin didn’t use the cover to promote this on Indiegogo because it’s not a true reflection of the good art inside the book. It’s just a green glowing logo on a black background. If this were on a shelf, I wouldn’t see this moving into the consumers’ hands with that cover.

Getting back to the writing, there is a ton of shit wedged into just 46 pages. A lot happens and the book jumps around in time, here and there. If you’re not paying close attention, it may be a bit confusing. But with so many characters and time shifts in this book, I don’t feel like I really got to know any of the core people other than a few surface traits. There needs to be more depth for the primary characters and this almost feels as if it was too much, too soon.

That all ties into one of my criticisms of these crowd funded indie projects. It’s as if the creators feel like they need to tell as much of the story as possible because they can only do one to two releases per year. If this was drawn out a bit more and properly paced, the story might not conclude for years. And by that point, a lot of the initial audience will move on. This is why I prefer the monthly model of mainstream comics or the idea of doing a full, proper graphic novel that tells a single, self-contained story. Most of these Comicsgate projects end with a “To Be Continued”. Well, when? Six months from now? A year from now? Oh, you have three more projects on your plate before coming back to this?

It probably sounds like I’m shitting on this and I don’t mean to. But if I can’t objectively review it and hold it to the same standard that I do every other comic, then I’m just being dishonest. I’m not Comicsgate, as the creators of this book are. But Comicsgate claims that they want better comics. Well, if they aren’t criticized and held to the same standard as mainstream comics, then they’ll never produce better comics. Those who review these books and praise them without being objective and honest, don’t actually want better comics. The criticism should be constructive, fair and honest or else it isn’t valid. I want good comics, not the Christian rock version of comics.

That being said, this has promise. It’s a cool concept and it looks great for the most part. I’m interested in seeing where this can go but I’m also not going to care two years from now.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: Other recent Comicsgate books like Richard C. Meyer’s Jawbreakers, which Malin also worked on.