Comic Review: Battle Maiden Knuckle Bomb

Published: September, 2019
Written by: Keung Lee
Art by: Keung Lee

Murakumo Comics, 64 Pages

Review:

I first came across this crowdfunded comic when Keung Lee was introduced on an episode of Ethan Van Sciver’s Comicsgate Live YouTube show. Being a fan of the manga style, as well as tokusatsu, this definitely peaked my interest.

I didn’t back it initially, however, but I kept my eye on it for quite some time. After more art came out and Keung Lee spent more time on other people’s livestreams talking about the project, I finally decided to back it a few months after the campaign launched.

Battle Maiden Knuckle Bomb is described as manga and tokusatsu presented in the reading style western audiences prefer. It absolutely works and I dig the hell out of Lee’s art style. Everything is so polished and nice to look at.

Beyond that, this also has a sort of cyberpunk superhero feel to it. While it’s not quite as futuristic and dystopian feeling as Akira, Battle Angel Alita or Ghost In the Shell, it certainly channels those franchises in a subtle way. At least, I see similar tropes and tones. Although, this is more lighthearted and taps more into the teen manga style than those darker, more serious books.

This is the first part of a larger story arc. So this serves as the introduction to what will be a bigger world and a bigger tale. It does a good job getting you invested in the characters and their unique world. After finishing this, I wished there was already a second volume to delve into. I guess we’ll have to wait some time for that but I’m pretty sure I’ll also back the follow up.

Out of all the recent crowdfunded comics, this is certainly in the upper echelon for me. It’s got beautiful art, a cool style and it makes you care about the story you’re reading.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: future comics by Keung Lee, as well as other comics under the Murakumo imprint.

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: Punchline: Blood Sisters

Published: August 14th, 2019
Written by: Bill Williams
Art by: Brian Denham, Matthew Weldon, Tiago Barsa, Neeraj Menon

Antarctic Press, 124 Pages

Review:

This was a comic book that I backed on Indiegogo last year. I was mainly looking forward to it because the price wasn’t too high and the art looked fantastic just from the sample images I saw.

I was glad to finally get it, even though I was able to read the first issue collected in this trade paperback, as it was released back in May for Free Comic Book Day.

For the most part, I was pretty happy with Punchline. I’ll probably end up checking out whatever follows this story arc.

Ultimately though, this is the intro to what I’m assuming is an ongoing series or at least a comic with future miniseries or trades. That being said, a lot happens in this but because of that, the plot progression feels rushed at times.

Some things happen too fast without a proper build or added context. The teen girl who becomes a superhero seems way too eager and quick to jump into this lifestyle, especially after she has reservations over just about everything that happens once she gets her powers.

Her reservations are legitimate, as the plot moves along but I feel like she was quickly thrown into the role to get the story moving. I feel like we should’ve known more about her, her drive, her motivation, her backstory, etc. We learn about her brother’s death and it becomes an integral plot point but when it comes up, it’s just sort of thrown into the mix. But it’s hard to emotionally connect to what the hero is going through because it seemed like a random curveball.

Still, this was a good read. I especially loved the art and the character design. I’d like to see how this world develops over time.

Being that this is the first arc, it is a decent start to a series but it just needs a bit more fine tuning in regards to pacing and when and how to reveal specific plot details.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: other recent female-led crowdfunded comics I’ve read like Blue Mamba and Flying Sparks.

Talking Pulp’s Pull List – 4th Quarter, 2019

This is my personal pull list as it stands, right now. From month to month it changes, as I read a lot of limited series stuff but I figured that doing a quarterly update would be cool for my readers that keep up with current comics.

So this is what I have my local comic shop pull for me each month, most of which I will review every time I get to the end of a story arc.

I’ve broken them out by publisher and alphabetized the list to make it flow easier.

And if there’s anything you like that I’m not reading, tell me in the comments.

Marvel Comics:
-Absolute Carnage
-Age of Conan: Valeria
-Conan the Barbarian
-Dead Man Logan
-Doctor Doom
-Excalibur
-Fallen Angels
-Fantastic Four: Grand Design
-Ghost Rider
-Invaders
-King Thor
-Marauders
-New Mutants
-Punisher Soviet
-Savage Avengers
-The Savage Sword of Conan
-Venom
-Venom Island
-X-Force
-X-Men

DC Comics:
-Batman and the Outsiders
-Batman: Curse of the White Knight
-Batman Vs. Ra’s al Ghul
-Deathstroke
-Detective Comics
-Doomsday Clock
-Gotham City Monsters

Dynamite Entertainment:
-Red Sonja
-Vampirella
-Vampirella/Red Sonja
-Vengeance of Vampirella

Image Comics:
-Coffin Bound
-Spawn

IDW Publishing:
-G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero
-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder In Hell

Dark Horse:
-The Orville

Comic Review: Hellboy, Vol. 2: Wake the Devil

Published: February 3rd, 2004
Written by: Pat Brosseau, Mike Mignola
Art by: Mike Mignola

Dark Horse, 146 Pages

Review:

I wish I would have read this closer to when I finished the previous volume but my comic book queue is massive and it got somewhat disheveled a few months back when I acquired a ton of new stuff from a friend moving.

Anyway, this is a new story, the second in the actual history of Hellboy. Still, this builds off of the first volume and even though he’s dead, Rasputin returns in spiritual form to band together his Nazi followers, who have idolized him like a religious figure since the old days.

The three main villains here are actually the same as the trio that was featured in the first Guillermo del Toro Hellboy movie.

Overall, I love Mignola’s art style and the tone of these stories. I also love Lovecraftian horror and this just hit those notes in the right way.

However, I found this less exciting than the original miniseries. I think that’s because this isn’t as much of a self contained story as it is being used to world build now that Hellboy is evolving into a regularly released comic for Dark Horse.

In the end, this is still a strong chapter in the franchise and it only makes me want to keep reading the series.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: other Hellboy and B.P.R.D. related comics.

Comic Review: Red Sonja: Birth of the She-Devil

Published: June 12th, 2019 – September 18th, 2019
Written by: Luke Lieberman
Art by: Sergio Fernandez Davila
Based on: Red Sonya by Robert E. Howard, Red Sonja by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith

Dynamite Entertainment, 128 Pages

Review:

For those of us that wanted a Red Sonja version of Year One, this is a comic just for us. Granted, I never thought about the idea myself but when I first heard that this was coming out and it was focused on how Sonja became Sonja, I definitely wanted to add it to my pull list.

Luke Lieberman has been writing and editing Red Sonja stories for years, so it was fitting that he penned this story. And honestly, Lieberman is, hands down, one of the best Red Sonja writers of all-time despite the fact that his family owns the rights to the character. I’ve typically always enjoyed his tales and this one was no different.

The story takes us back to Sonja’s life at the end of her teen years. She’s still angry about the murder of her family and she’s not as restrained or refined in how she deals with things. But this point in her life is really where the moniker, “She-Devil with a Sword” was born.

We see her grow throughout these four issues and overall, it’s kind of cool seeing this portion of her life. She’s been an interesting and complex character for decades but this allows her to have even more depth.

I liked the art in this miniseries, as well. Sergio Fernandez Davila gave us some solid action sequences and helped bring the story to life.

Overall, this was engaging and gave us a pretty unrestrained badass at the start of her badassness.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other recent Red Sonja comics from Dynamite.

Vids I Dig 111: Comic Tropes: Jeff Smith’s ‘Bone’ is the Best Fantasy Comic

From Comic Tropes’ YouTube description: It may sound like hyperbole to claim a particular comic is the best. But I think there is enough critical and financial consensus to back up my claim. Bone is an accomplishment in both storytelling and self-publishing.

Following the three Bone cousins – Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone – as they are introduced to a magical world and its inhabitants including the enigmatic young woman Thorn, Bone blends both high fantasy and humor. This video argues what it does well and what makes it unique.