Comic Review: Spider-Man/Red Sonja

Published: 2007
Written by: Michael Avon Oeming
Art by: Mel Rubi, Michael Turner (covers)
Based on: Red Sonya by Robert E. Howard, Red Sonja by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith

Marvel Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, 144 Pages

Review:

Man, I really wanted to like this but it left me mostly, underwhelmed and baffled.

A long time ago, back when Marvel had the full-time publishing rights to Red Sonja, they did a one-off story about Mary Jane being possessed by Sonja and then had her team-up with her boyfriend, Spider-Man.

This longer, five-part miniseries is just a rehash of that story, as opposed to having Spidey actually team-up with the real Sonja in the flesh.

Still, it’s not the worst idea for bringing these characters together but doing it a second time seems lazy and uninspiring. But then, so does the rest of this story.

Red Sonja’s villain Kulan Gath shows up in modern day New York City to create havoc because that’s what villains do. He then uses Venom to try and take out Sonja and Spidey but ultimately, he steals the Venom symbiote for himself because this story is already cookie cutter as shit and aiming low seems to be what they were going for.

We also get suped up magical versions of well-known Spidey villains because why wouldn’t we?

I don’t know, more often than not, crossovers like this are really bad and half-assed schlock made to grab a buck from multiple fan bases. I guess this one didn’t strive to be anything different.

I mostly liked the interior art though and the covers were solid.

Rating: 4.25/10
Pairs well with: other Red Sonja crossovers or stories that put her in modern times.

Comic Review: Transformers: Megatron – Origin

Published: 2007
Written by: Eric Holmes
Art by: Alex Milne
Based on: Transformers by Hasbro

IDW Publishing, 107 Pages

Review:

I haven’t been too keen on IDW’s Transformers comics but I do enjoy some of them enough to keep giving others a chance. Being that this miniseries was focused on the origin of Megatron and the Decepticons, it definitely peaked my interest.

I assume that this all takes place within the rebooted IDW comics continuity, as opposed to the first generation of the cartoon series or the classic Marvel comics run. But it’s written in a way that you can kind of fit it into any of the continuities and it serves its purpose without contradicting any established canon, at least from what I can tell.

The story goes into who Megatron was before he became a powerful fascist dictator. It shows the events that led to him taking political and social matters into his own hands, as well as how the Decepticons came together.

This features a few major characters, most notably Soundwave and Starscream with two of the other Seekers. It shows how the Decepticons sort of start out as domestic terrorists and how that inspires many disgruntled robots to pick up arms and grow this small group into a force that will eventually cause the destruction of Cybertron.

The plot is pretty good but it is very “paint by numbers”, without veering off into anything unexpected or surprising. That’s not a bad thing but it felt as if the writer was playing it kind of safe in order to not step on the toes of canon.

For the most part, I really enjoyed the art and the colors were especially good.

In the end, this isn’t a must read but it was still cool to check out and one of the better Transformers miniseries I’ve read from the IDW era.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: other IDW Publishing Transformers collections.

Comic Review: Kong On the Planet of the Apes

Published: October 10th, 2018
Written by: Ryan Ferrier
Art by: Carlos Magno, Alex Guimaraes, Faye Dalton (cover), John Keaveney (cover)
Based on: King Kong by James Creelman, Ruth Rose, Merian C. Cooper, Edgar Wallace, Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle

BOOM! Studios, 160 Pages

Review:

This seems like such a natural idea for a crossover that I’m surprised that it wasn’t done earlier than 2018. And while I’ve kind of grown tired of franchises crossing over just for the hell of it, at least this one found a way to come together without having to use magic, portals or wishy washy dimensional travel bullshit.

King Kong just happens to exist on the same Earth as the apes of the future and he’s just remained on his secluded island with tribal humans, undiscovered by the apes that rule the planet.

In this story, the famous apes from the classic Planet of the Apes film series stumble across Skull Island and discover the giant kaiju beast that is worshiped as a god. Of course, the military apes have to capture the big beast and enslave the tribe, upsetting the more rational scientist apes. This leads to conflict amongst the apes, as well as with the humans and with Kong, who isn’t too keen on these simian invaders.

It’s a very straightforward story and there aren’t any real twists or swerves. It’s just a good, interesting setup and then the plot does its job, giving us a pretty satisfying conclusion.

This is a good example of a franchise crossover in the comic book medium. Everything felt natural and wasn’t at all forced.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read and it felt like it fit well with either franchise.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other Planet of the Apes crossover comics.

Comic Review: Mars Attacks Judge Dredd

Published: February 12th, 2014
Written by: Al Ewing
Art by: John McCrea, Greg Staples
Based on: Judge Dredd by John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra and Pat Mills, Mrs Attacks! by Topps

IDW Publishing, 104 Pages

Review:

I feel like I’ve been suffering from crossover burnout but this one was at least amusing and I found it to be better than a lot of the other ones I’ve read lately.

The tone kind of took me off guard and I was annoyed by all the weird mafioso shit that started the story, as it featured characters that were poor knockoffs of Dick Tracy‘s gimmicky villains.

However, once Judge Dredd got on the scene, as well as the Martians, things picked up and this had a good, comedic vibe.

This certainly isn’t a must read for fans of either (or both) franchises but it’s not a total waste and it’s at least as entertaining as it can be.

Al Ewing wrote this and he’s become a top dog in the comics industry after his work on The Immortal Hulk but if I’m being honest, this pales in comparison to his more recent work. But in his defense, this wasn’t written in any way that should be taken too seriously.

This is short and it’s a quick and easy read. It’s violent, humorous and a decent way to kill a half hour.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: other comics or crossovers featuring Mars Attacks! or Judge Dredd.

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: Transformers: Infestation

Published: February 2nd, 2011 – February 16th, 2011
Written by: Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning
Art by: Nick Roche
Based on: Transformers by Hasbro

IDW Publishing, 51 Pages

Review:

I like Dan Abnett but I didn’t like this.

Dude seriously just dialed it in and wrote a pretty basic, unexciting Transformers meets zombies storyline.

I mean, it’s probably not his fault as the zombie thing has really run its course and this actually came out in 2011 when The Walking Dead TV show had just started.

However, it really doesn’t add much of anything worthwhile to the zombie genre or Transformers lore. I guess the zombies can effect robots too but that’s probably just done for convenience because how else would they be a threat to giant robots?

Anyway, this was a really quick read and it almost felt pointless. It has no real bearing over anything. I guess it is tied to the larger Infestation crossover event but I’m not sure how it all comes together and the only other one I’ve read was the G.I. Joe one. But I don’t really want to read anymore of these.

Just adding zombies to shit doesn’t make shit better. Give me a story, a decent story. But Abnett probably also needed more than 51 pages to do that.

Honestly, Dan Abnett is a solid writer but this is not an example of his best work. For better stuff, check out his recent and lengthy run on Aquaman, as well as the cancelled-too-soon comic The Silencer.

Rating: 4.5/10
Pairs well with: the other IDW Infestation comics.

Comic Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters 2

Published: February 28th, 2018
Written by: Erik Burnham, Tom Waltz
Art by: Dan Schoening
Based on: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, Ghostbusters by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis

IDW Publishing, 132 Pages

Review:

It’s not this particular comic’s fault but I think I’m suffering from IP crossover fatigue. I’ve read a ton of crossovers between different intellectual properties over the last year or so and they all follow the same tired formula of smashing two franchise together via a portal or a dimensional rift whether it be through science or magic.

That was how these two franchises came together in the first place and that’s also how they come back together for a second time. So I can’t fault it as a plot device here, it’s already been established. However, with that trope, we also get other tropes with stories like this that make them all pretty predictable and just more of the same.

Now this was still amusing and I enjoyed the banter between the characters. However, the story itself felt like a clusterfuck. The main reason, is that it takes this portal/rift trope and multiplies it by a thousand.

There is so much dimensional jumping that the plot becomes overly complicated and confusing. It’s like someone took an entire season of the show Sliders and tried to wedge them all into a five issue comic book arc.

Crossovers like this used to feel cool and special. But there are so many of them and IDW is a big part of the problem, as they own the publishing rights to so many franchises. When the regular comics don’t sell, you smash the titles together and try to capitalize. It worked for awhile. I just don’t think it’s working anymore.

Props to Dan Schoening on the art though. This was a nice book to look at in that regard.

Rating: 5.25/10
Pairs well with: other IDW collections for both Ghostbusters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Comic Review: Vampirella Master Series – Omnibus

Published: September 20th, 2017
Written by: Kurt Busiek, Mike Carey, Warren Ellis, Jeph Loeb, Mark Millar, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, James Robinson
Art by: Amanda Conner, Gary Frank, Joe Jusko, Louis LaChance, Mike Lilly, Mike Mayhew, Tim Sale, Mark Texeira

Dynamite Entertainment, Harris Comics, 545 Pages

Review:

I’ve kind of dug Vampirella my entire life, even if I hadn’t read many of her stories until more recently. She always looked like a cool, badass character and I’ve always enjoyed horror, especially vampire fiction.

Being that this is the 50th anniversary of the character and because I’m stoked for the new series that Christopher Priest is writing, I wanted to dive deep into Vampirella lore.

This gigantic omnibus was put out recently by Dynamite but it collects stories from the ’90s when Vampirella was being published by the now defunct Harris Comics.

What makes this collection special, is that it is a compilation of Vampirella stories from a ton of A-list creators in a time when comics were allowed to be harder, sexier, edgier and darker: all things that make Vampirella who she is.

Overall, most of this was entertaining. The only low point was the Kurt Busiek story because it was a bit slow when compared to the pacing of the others. I did like Busiek’s tale overall but it was also the largest and kind of took the wind out of the sails for me.

I wish that some of the other stories were larger or expanded on more, though. There were a lot of cool ideas tossed around and a lot of what was considered Vampirella canon was experimented on and retconned. Typically, I’m not big on retcons but with Vampirella having a rocky history, as far as being published regularly and with any sort of long lasting narrative, it doesn’t bother me. Plus, by the ’90s, a little reinvention wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

In the end, I was glad to have finally read these stories and they’re certainly better than what was the standard in the early to mid-’90s.

I also loved most of the art.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other Vampirella stories, as well as comics featuring Red Sonja and Dejah Thoris.

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.