Comic Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder In Hell

Published: April 24th, 2019 – December 4th, 2019
Written by: Mateus Santolouco
Art by: Mateus Santolouco
Based on: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird

IDW Publishing, 146 Pages

Review:

While I haven’t read any of IDW’s regular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles continuity, I’ve heard really good things about it from friends who love everything Turtles. Granted, they could have some bias but I figured that this miniseries had an interesting enough premise for me to check out.

I’m not sure about what led to this but Shredder is in Hell, as the title implies. I wouldn’t say that this is too dissimilar from other comics where characters go to Hell and have to face their own demons but it was still a cool read with pretty good art.

My only real complaint about it was that I felt like I needed more context and enough backstory wasn’t revealed within this five issue arc.

Additionally, there were big delays between the issues getting released and waiting three months for issue five really hurt the momentum of the series, as it’s hard to retain most of the details from the first four issues, when you are getting old and read dozens of comics per month.

In a nutshell, this isn’t a bad effort but it’s not a very good effort. I felt lost through parts of it but the art salvaged some of it and at least it was visually neat.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: other recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics from IDW, especially since this ties to the main story in that continuity.

Comic Review: G.I. Joe: Sierra Muerte

Published: August 28th, 2019
Written by: Michel Fiffe
Art by: Michel Fiffe
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

IDW Publishing, 107 Pages

Review:

I remember when this book was coming out, people online were trashing the art. I thought that some of the people behind the comments just didn’t know who Michel Fiffe was and hadn’t seen his work elsewhere but honestly, I can’t say that the criticisms were wrong.

You see, this is a G.I. Joe comic book. It is a licensed property that IDW Publishing pays a lot of money for in order to create content for the Hasbro owned toy brand in the comic book medium. This is the most important factor in why my criticism of this miniseries is about to turn really f’n harsh.

To put it bluntly, Fiffe’s art style isn’t for everyone and that’s the real problem. It’s like IDW got an indie artist with a unique style and thought that this would somehow sell G.I. Joe comics. Well, G.I. Joe comics haven’t sold well in years, so I’m not sure what made IDW think that bringing in an artist with a non-traditional style would somehow appeal to more people than the few they’re actually selling these G.I. Joe books to.

If you are paying a lot of money for the rights to publish a brand you don’t own, don’t you want that brand to make you the most money as possible in order to get a return on your licensing fees, as well as making a boatload of profit? If the answer is “no”, then why the fuck are you a business? If the answer is “yes”, then why the fuck wouldn’t you put out a product tailored to appeal to the largest audience possible?

Furthermore, do you understand the G.I. Joe brand that you are paying all this money for? I’d say “no”, as your helping to kill it off permanently between this miniseries, Paul Allor’s current series and all that Aubrey Sitterson crap from two years ago. Hell, even the regular series that Larry Hama is still working on feels like it’s an afterthought and aimless, pointless schlock that’s so far removed from the spirit of the series, it can’t find its way back. But I don’t blame Hama, the dude’s been writing G.I. Joe for almost forty years.

Point being, this absolutely does not look the way a G.I. Joe comic book should look. Do you even know who the audience for this franchise is? Do you care? Or is everything you do a tax write-off since your company has been losing its ass for a few years now.

But none of this is to knock on Michel Fiffe’s personal art style. It’s just not the right style for a brand that is beloved by adults, many former veterans, that want their Joes to be badass and always look badass.

I should probably also mention that the story here felt rushed and wasn’t very coherent. This probably needed more than three issues to tell its story or it needed to be a smaller story without so many characters shoehorned into it.

I’m pretty sure IDW is mostly dead, at this point. Well, except for the money Marvel’s throwing them to keep them afloat and printing their D-level titles.

But if anyone from Hasbro is out there, what the fuck, guys? I want this brand to be as great as it once was and it has a rich enough mythos and backlog of stories and superb characters to always have something to say. I just wish the people that owned G.I. Joe gave a shit about it as much as the fans that still exist do.

Rating: 3/10
Pairs well with: other post-Chuck Dixon/Mike Costa era G.I. Joe comics put out by IDW i.e. the shitty ones.

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: Dick Tracy: Dead or Alive

Published: April 24th, 2019
Written by: Lee Allred, Mike Allred
Art by: Rich Tommaso, Mike Allred
Based on: Dick Tracy by Chester Gould

IDW Publishing, 108 Pages

Review:

I wanted to add this series to my pull list when it came out last year but I forgot about it around the time of its release. My store didn’t have any on the shelves either and by the time I remembered it, it was already too late. So I got and read the trade paperback instead.

I’ve been a Dick Tracy fan since the 1990 movie. Even though I knew about the character, it was that film that really introduced me to his world. I loved the hell out of that movie and still do, it’s one of the greatest comic book adaptations of all-time. I was captivated by the bright colors, the music but mostly by the unique and gimmicky mobsters.

I had the action figures. I had all the shit they gave out at McDonald’s that was tied to the film in the summer of ’90. I even had Dick Tracy bed sheets and one of the pillowcases became my container for Halloween candy for multiple years. I was a Dick-aholic. Or whatever the hell Dick Tracy fans are officially called.

So I was also excited for this due to the involvement of Mike Allred, whose Madman comics I’m also a fan of.

Ultimately, this was a pretty neat read. I wouldn’t call it great by any means but it hits the right notes mostly.

Well, other than where there are weird things in the story like smartphones. I get that this brought in some modern tech for what I assume is an attempt to be humorous but it honestly took me out of the comic I felt immersed in. I felt as if I was lost in a classic Dick Tracy tale and the writing style and quality worked but once I saw the first smartphone (and there are multiple) it reminded me that I’m reading an IDW comic. Which, as of late, sadly, isn’t a compliment.

Dick Tracy: Dead or Alive started out like a throwback but lost itself and dated itself with its need to be overly whimsical. While that works for Allred’s Madman, it doesn’t work in quite the same way here.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: other old school and modern Dick Tracy comics.

Top 30 Comic Series That Aren’t Marvel or DC

Marvel and DC have the comic book market pretty much on lockdown. They are the Coke and Pepsi of their industry and probably always will be. That being said, there are a ridiculous amount of great comic books out there that don’t fall under the Marvel and DC banner. This is a list of my thirty favorite comic books series put out by the smaller and more independent comic book publishers.

1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
2. Cerebus
3. Maus
4. Hellboy
5. Bone
6. The Walking Dead
7. Love & Rockets
8. The Fade Out
9. Star Wars (the Dark Horse era)
10. Madman
11. Spawn
12. Hawaiian Dick
13. Kill Or Be Killed
14. The Wicked Righteous
15. It Came Out On a Wednesday
16. Hack/Slash
17. Fatale
18. The Umbrella Academy
19. Red Sonja
20. Wolverton: Thief of Impossible Objects
21. Vampirella
22. Scud, the Disposable Assassin
23. Jawbreakers
24. The Maxx
25. Iron Sights
26. Feast Or Famine
27. Doctor Who (IDW era)
28. Tokyo Ghost
29. Cyberfrog
30. Black Hammer

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: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero – Classics, Vol. 7

Published: February 24th, 2010 (IDW reprint version)
Written by: Larry Hama
Art by: Ron Wagner, William Johnson, Arvell Jones, Marshall Rogers, Tony Salmons
Based on: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero by Hasbro

Marvel Comics (original printing), IDW Publishing (reprinted), 235 Pages

Review:

I read through the first six volumes of the classic G.I. Joe comics run pretty quickly, several months ago. So I took a lengthy break to read a lot of other stuff before coming back to it. There are fifteen volumes in total, so I’m now about halfway.

This collection takes place around the time where almost all the iconic characters were going through redesigns. This also features a lot of the characters that debuted in G.I. Joe: The Movie. What I consider the truly classic era is pretty much over by this point, as we get the battle armor Cobra Commander, the gold headed Destro, as well as Jinx, Chuckles and other Joes from that time frame.

As far as the cartoon and the toyline, this is where things started to decline. However, in comic book form, this era ain’t half bad and I really enjoyed Larry Hama’s stories here.

The first big arc deals with Stalker and a couple other Joes who have been captured and are being held captive in a concentration camp in a fictional country ruled by a communist dictator. The story here is pretty dark. Granted, it’s not as dark as it could be but this is a comic written for pre-teen boys as a marketing vehicle to sell toys.

We also have the death of the original Cobra Commander in this collection, as well as the rise of the second Cobra Commander, the man who murdered the original. Tied into that is the continued story of the first Commander’s son, Billy. He continues to train under the Arashikage ninja arts with his teachers Storm Shadow and Jinx.

I guess the best part of the story, at least for me, is where Snake Eyes and Scarlett fake their own deaths in order to recuse their friends from the concentration camp. This does a great job of strengthening their bond, as well as giving us some solid character development for my favorite G.I. Joe couple, Flint and Lady Jaye.

This collection ends kind of open ended but that’s how these volumes go, as each one strictly covers ten issues. I think the last few volumes get a bit shorter though.

Ultimately, this was another solid string of stories in the ongoing G.I. Joe saga. It propels things forward, gives us some new material that feels fresh and has me hopeful for the other volumes that follow.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: Any of the original Marvel G.I. Joe and Transformers comics.