Comic Review: Cyberfrog: Amphibionix

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

All Caps Comics, 20 Pages

Review:

I really dug Cyberfrog: Bloodhoney and I also thought that the Cyberfrog 1998 ashcan was well done, if not slightly better in how it bridged a long gap and showed an improvement in overall storytelling. So I obviously went into this second ashcan with great enthusiasm.

Out of the three modern Cyberfrog releases, thus far, this one was my least favorite. That being said, it’s still really damn good and it’s still pretty consistent with the vibe, style and quality of the other two.

This one is kind of a side story from back in the day, before Cyberfrog went into a multiple decades hibernation. It follows him and his bestie, Heather Swain, before shit really hits the fan with the alien invasion that wrecked the planet.

In this short, one-off story, Cyberfrog has an evil nun impostor stuck to his shoulder blades. What follows is a series of comedic events, as he attempts to get the corpse off of him.

I like Ethan Van Sciver’s humor and it really shines here. In fact, that’s something that this book does better than the others.

Furthermore, Van Sciver once again shows why he is one of the best comic book artists of our time, as this just looks incredible, visually. I also have to give credit to colorist Kyle Ritter, who only gets better and better with every project he works on. I’m really looking forward to his Starblades comic book.

Cyberfrog: Amphibionix was a blast! While I am eager to continue on in the main story, as new installments come out, I hope that Van Sciver does find time to throw in some one-off stories like this one. Plus, I’m kind of a junkie for ashcans and mini-comics.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: Ethan’s Green Lantern and Flash stuff, as well as the original Cyberfrog run at Harris Comics.

Comic Review: Cyberfrog 1998: The Diary of Heather Swain

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

All Caps Comics, 20 Pages

Review:

Initially, I guess I didn’t back the two Cyberfrog ashcans on Indiegogo. I was anticipating getting them and then I didn’t when Cyberfrog: Bloodhoney came in the mail. Luckily, Ethan Van Sciver did a second campaign for those of us that missed out and I scooped them up. This is a review of the first of the two Cyberfrog ashcans I read.

Straight off, this pulled me right in and didn’t let go. I had to read it twice.

The story’s purpose is to fill in the blanks between the last time Cyberfrog was around (the late ’90s) up until now. He’s been relaunched for a new generation of readers and because Van Sciver still has nothing but immense love for this character he created and wasn’t able to work on for a few decades due to his commitments to DC Comics and his brief time at Marvel.

This twenty page ashcan does a stupendous job in bridging that gap, as we are brought up to speed through the words of Heather Swain, Cyberfrog’s human friend, who has had to tough it out in a post-apocalyptic world ruled by alien wasps that harvest humans for their blood. For over twenty years, her badass friend has been missing and she’s been on her own with her young daughter and a few other survivors.

Before all all these Cyberfrog books started coming out, many people wondered whether or not Van Sciver would be able to write as well as he draws. Well, now that the cat is out of the bag with three modern Cyberfrog releases, I’d say the answer is “yes”. I loved this and it really got me hyped for the future releases after Bloodhoney, which I’ve also already read and reviewed (see here).

Ultimately, these comics lived up to the hype. In fact, I feel as if they somewhat exceed it, as Van Sciver’s art has never been better and I say that as a guy that absolutely loved his Green Lantern work and credit it with getting me back into comics in the mid-’00s after taking nearly a decade off.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: Ethan’s Green Lantern and Flash stuff, as well as the original Cyberfrog run at Harris Comics.

Book Review: ’12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos’ by Jordan B. Peterson

I don’t usually read books like this but it was given to me by a friend. I then realized that Jordan Peterson was the guy that was supremely hated and protested by all the college kids that want the entire world to be a “safe zone”.

After reading this, I’m not sure why all the weirdos of college campuses hate the guy. I guess it’s because he’s trying to show you how to succeed at life and make something out of yourself instead of being a leech baby sucking society’s chaffed tits while crying that everything is unfair, racist, sexist, hard, tough and too dependent on intelligence and good work ethic.

Overall, this is a pretty good book. It took me a long time to get through it, as I don’t usually read stuff like this.

It also features some art by Ethan Van Sciver, even though they spelled his name wrong on the credits page. For those that don’t know, he’s another guy that crybaby pussies hate because he calls them out on their bullshit.

This is a pretty shitty book review. But the book isn’t shitty.

Far from it.

These things just typically bore me to tears but that’s because I have little time to read books and when I do, I want them to be about something I want to learn.

I pretty much already know how not to suck at life. So here are my “13 Rules for Life” because I prefer baker’s dozens.

1. Don’t be a little bitch about everything.
2. Treat people with respect.
3. Don’t surround yourself with fucking shitheads.
4. Eat some damn fruit and vegetables once in a while.
5. Fuck stuff, especially attractive stuff.
6. Don’t make excuses or blame the universe when you suck.
7. Don’t worry about “likes” on social media, it’s not 2008 anymore, grow up.
8. Maybe exercise a bit more.
9. Don’t walk around town like a sad, frumpy asshole.
10. Don’t start shit you won’t finish.
11. Be fucking charitable, not a selfish twat.
12. Be the rock for others in the way you hope they’ll be the rock for you.
13. Learn what words like “loyalty” and “gratitude” actually mean and understand them.

See, it’s simple stuff.

The end. And bitch… you’re welcome!

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other motivational, self-help, positive thinking, go get’em books.

Comic Review: Jawbreakers – GØD-K1NG

Published: December, 2019
Written by: Richard C. Meyer, Chuck Dixon
Art by: Aaron Alfeche, Charlie Snogans, Renzo Rodriguez, Ethan Van Sciver (cover), Kyle Ritter (cover)

Splatto Comics, 96 Pages

Review:

I gotta say, color me impressed over the fact that the wait for this book was minuscule compared to the wait for the first one. But first campaigns are learning experiences and Ya Boi Zack really refined how he does things.

But I’ve also got to say that this book was an improvement over the first one, which goes to show that Meyer listened to the criticism of his readers and used that as fuel to get better instead of having a public meltdown on Twitter like many comic book pros.

While I liked Jon Malin’s art in the first Jawbreakers, I like Aaron Alfeche’s more in this volume. He really captures these characters well and going forward, I hope that he is the regular Jawbreakers artist.

I’m not sure if I enjoyed the overall plot of this more than the first one, though, but it was still good, intense and it showed that these characters live in a universe where the dangers are real and actions come with real consequences. But I won’t spoil anything for those of you who haven’t read this yet.

Honestly, I think I like both stories about the same. The only real difference is that this one flows better, has better transitions from panel to panel and it just felt like it had more energy.

This trade paperback actually features four stories with the GØD-K1NG story taking up at least half of the book. After it, there are two extra Jawbreakers related stories and then a sneak preview of a project that Chuck Dixon is working on.

Overall, this was an improvement over the first book and I feel like the creative team that was assembled for this round were firing on all cylinders. Everything seemed to click well and this one made me excited for its eventual followup.

Side note: the bonus story with the art by Charlie Snogans looks dynamite. I love that guy’s art and I hope to see more from him in the future.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: Richard C. Meyer’s Jawbreakers – Lost Souls, as well as Iron Sights.

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.

Comic Review: Jawbreakers – Lost Souls

Published: February, 2019
Written by: Richard C. Meyer
Art by: Jon Malin, Brett R. Smith, Eric Weathers, Simon Bennett (Book One), Kelsey Shannon (Book Two), Ethan Van Sciver (cover), Kyle Ritter (cover)

Splatto Comics, 120 Pages

Review:

Well, after a very long wait, Richard C. Meyer’s Jawbreakers – Lost Souls has finally arrived. It took awhile to come out but Meyer has kept people clued in every step of the way due to all the roadblocks and challenges that popped up during this comic’s creation to it finally getting in the consumers’ hands.

I’m glad that I finally got it, as I’ve wanted to review it for a long time.

Full disclosure, I’m not a Comicsgater but I get lumped into that label by people who don’t like those of us who question things or criticize the comic book industry. Also, when I reviewed Meyer’s Iron Sights, I upset a lot of those who lean in a direction opposite of Meyer and most of his supporters. But I liked Iron Sights, despite its issues, and gave that one a 6.75 out of 10.

That being said, Jawbreakers is a step up from Iron Sights but I still have some issues with it, overall.

For the most part, the art in the Lost Souls story is pretty good. Jon Malin is talented but I’m not always a fan of his characters. Everything looks very sleek and his characters seem a bit slender and elongated in certain poses. Still, he’s much better than the average bear and he’s only getting better with more high profile projects under his belt. I’m pretty excited about his Graveyard Shift comic, which are now hitting mailboxes.

Brett R. Smith’s colors are absolutely fantastic though. I also love the cover by Ethan Van Sciver and Kyle Ritter.

This release also features two “remastered” versions of older Jawbreakers stories. One is drawn by Simon Bennett while the other is done by Kelsey Shannon, who also did the Iron Sights cover. These two additions to this release don’t look as good as Malin’s work. Bennett’s parts need more refinement. Shannon’s are better but I’m not a huge fan of the style he uses here and it’s not as polished as his Iron Sights cover, which was actually stunning.

I thought the story was decent, as it is similar to a G.I. Joe story with a kaiju thrown in. I love both of those things, so mixing them is a cool idea. However, this isn’t G.I. Joe. I’d say it’s better than what IDW Publishing has done with the actual G.I. Joe franchise in the years since Chuck Dixon stopped writing it but this feels a bit thin.

If I’m being honest, I need to know something about the characters’ backstories. Here they are thrown into a situation and you just go along for the ride. Meyer needs to develop these characters a bit more but since he has plans to use these characters in the future, maybe we’ll get to know them better. Right now, they feel like generic placeholders or those G.I. Joes that would pop up into a story because they had an action figure but they weren’t popular enough to get more than a minor cameo.

This might sound harsh and I don’t mean it to be but G.I. Joe had a lot of toy companies that knocked them off with toylines like The Corps! and X-Troop. Right now, this feels more like The Corps! than G.I. Joe. It is kind of generic but again, that’s probably because these characters need more depth. I need to care about them and I don’t just off of this story.

I do like that this just gets to the action and it’s pretty much balls to the wall from start to finish. But over time, we’ll need more than that. I can excuse the lack of depth being that this is, right now, a one-off action story.

Jawbreakers is a good start to something but it will take some time to turn it into a brand. The problem with that though, is that crowdfunded comics take a long time to create and distribute. This is one of my criticisms of doing comics this way when I’ve lived in a world where my favorite heroes and teams hit my pull box on a monthly basis. It is much easier finding yourself invested in characters and stories that come out with some regularity. I don’t know if crowdfunded comic franchises in the making can succeed in that way. Plus, people lose interest in things when there’s a long wait.

But for now, I did enjoy this. I certainly don’t have any sort of buyer’s remorse. This was a cool experiment and the end product mostly delivers.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: Richard C. Meyer’s Iron Sights.

Comic Review: The Flash: Rebirth

Published: October 8th, 2013
Written by: Geoff Johns
Art by: Ethan Van Sciver

DC Comics, 158 Pages

Review:

I love Geoff Johns work at DC Comics and I have always loved his collaborations with artist Ethan Van Sciver. Their work on Green Lantern got me back into comics during a time when I had sort of faded away from the medium due to no longer being as engaged by it.

Green Lantern: Rebirth was one of my favorite comic book stories of all-time. It made me love Hal Jordan and I was pulled in by Johns’ writing and Van Sciver’s wonderful art. Since I also liked Johns’ Flash stuff, I figured that The Flash: Rebirth would be something that I would also love. But sadly, it just didn’t do it for me.

The biggest problem that I have with Flash stories is the damn Speed Force. Also, in recent years, the Flash pocket of the larger DC universe is overloaded with too many characters with the same lame set of powers. There are so many damn speedsters that it’s really f’n redundant.

In an era where people are screaming for diversity, even though it has existed in comics for decades, maybe there should be a call for diversity in powers in the Flash titles. I mean, if you’re going to cram a dozen heroes and villains into a plot, why are they all similar? And why is that exciting? And to be frank, this is why I lost interest in The Flash TV show, which I loved when it started.

Anyway, the art in this is damn good but Van Sciver hits the right note stylistically speaking when it comes to how this era of DC felt. He was a premiere architect in DC’s visual style from 2007-2014 or so. This book lives up to the standard one should expect from his work but apart from that, there wasn’t much here for me to enjoy.

The premiere villain is the Reverse Flash, another f’n speedster. And really, this is all about the weird, mystical Speed Force that is capable of anything a writer needs it to do. I don’t know, Speed Force heavy stories bore me to tears and they’re hard to keep up with because it’s all pseudo-science mumbo jumbo made up on a whim to explain random ass shit. I prefer stories where one Flash takes on one of his many awesome rogues that aren’t speedsters.

This is probably really good if reading about a dozen speedsters and Speed Force stuff is your thing. For me, it numbed my brain and made it hard to get through.

And fuck… this had so many damn cameos. I felt like it partially existed just to wedge in as many characters as possible.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: The Geoff Johns era of The Flash, as well as his era of Green Lantern.