Comic Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 16: Chasing Phantoms

Published: May 10th, 2017
Written by: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz
Art by: Mateus Santolouco, Dave Wachter
Based on: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird

IDW Publishing, 127 Pages

Review:

While I like that the IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book series is in new territory, by this point, and trying fresh things for the franchise, I also question whether or not it’s ran its course and is just running on fumes after the defeats of Shredder and Krang.

Don’t get me wrong, I like that it’s sort of changed its tone and there are new villains but it’s starting to feel a lot less like the traditional TMNT I grew up with and more like it’s trying to figure out where to go, charting new, unknown territory even for original creator Kevin Eastman.

Splinter being in charge of the Foot Clan just seems damn odd, even if he’s trying to make them a force for good. He’s still doing things that seem really out of character and the Turtles, his sons, recognize this. It’s been going on for a few volumes in this series now and I’m kind of waiting to see if there’s a real reason for it that will somehow make sense in a big, stunning reveal.

The series is just in a place of uncertainty in regards to where it’s going and the core characters’ lives and direction. I still like it, I’m still invested but something has to happen and soon.

The art is still on par with the previous volumes and as the series rolls on, it gets a wee bit better even with each chapter.

As I said, I’m still enjoying this, sixteen volumes deep, but I really feel like something big needs to go down much sooner, rather than later.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: the rest of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles run.

Comic Review: Red Sonja: Worlds Away, Vol. 1

Published: August 9th, 2017
Written by: Amy Chu
Art by: Carlos Gomez
Based on: Red Sonya by Robert E. Howard, Red Sonja by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith

Dynamite Entertainment, 197 Pages

Review:

In the spirit of all those Conan the Barbarian stories that sent the title character into modern times, as well as the awful but enjoyable film Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time, we have finally gotten a Red Sonja tale that sends her into the future a.k.a. our present.

Granted, this did come out in 2017. I just got around to reading it though, as I’ve read through a lot of other Red Sonja runs since I started this site and started reviewing comics.

I liked that this story really just got right into it and sent Sonja to present day New York City pretty much immediately while she was in a major scuffle with the evil sorcerer, Kulan Gath.

For the most part, I enjoyed the story, most of the characters Sonja meets and the art was pretty damn good.

My only real complaint was that there was a lot of things that were done for plot convenience. In comics, I can look away once or twice but there was just too many instances of it that I was like, “Oh, c’mon!”

Still, I liked this in spite of that. I just feel like this would have been a much better experience than it ended up being had those conveniences been less common and figured out within the story in a logical, believable way.

I still plan to read the other volumes in this series, anyway, as I love Red Sonja and this is a fun, fresh take on it.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other Red Sonja stories from Dynamite, as well as the Conan comic book stories that put him in the modern world and the second Beastmaster movie that sent the hero to 1990s Los Angeles.

Comic Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 15: Leatherhead

Published: October 5th, 2016
Written by: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz
Art by: Mateus Santolouco, Dave Wachter
Based on: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird

IDW Publishing, 125 Pages

Review:

This chapter in the very long-running IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series was pretty damn good.

The series is in a new place after the defeat of Shredder and Krang in two different big battles. So it’s uncertain where this can go, as it has entered really new territory and sort of has a clean slate.

That being said, this was really entertaining and full of surprises.

By the title of this volume, you know that Leatherhead enters the series. He was always a cool concept for a character but I always thought that he was never properly executed in the good ol’ days. In this, though, he’s a dangerous, massive beast. He at first seems like an ally but there’s a very dark, pretty f’d up twist with his character.

In this chapter, we also see more of the female Foot Clan member Jennika, who is trying to redeem herself after existing in a dark cloud under Shredder’s command. Here, Master Splinter is essentially her Yoda: training her, helping her find peace, balance and self-respect.

Man, this was just a good piece of storytelling with great art that fans that have stuck around this long should expect.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: the rest of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles run.

Comic Review: USAssassin, Book II: Enter Zeroface

Published: December, 2020
Written by: Mark Poulton
Art by: Mike McMahon

Haunted Pizza, 80 Pages

Review:

The first book in this series came free with my order of the second Graveyard Shift comic. It caught me by surprise and it was a whole lot of things I liked from late ’80s and early ’90s comics. It reminded me of Deathstroke and G.I. Joe mixed with the Cannon Films action movies of that era.

My surprise solidified my support for this campaign and I’m glad I backed it, as this second book arrived fast and was also pretty damn good.

I like the first chapter slightly more but a lot of that probably has to do with the surprise in getting it and for it being so f’n rad. With this one, I kind of knew what to expect, so the initial effect wasn’t the same.

In this chapter, we learn more about the main character, his primary villain and their long history together. It’s similar to the Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow bond in G.I. Joe but then add steroids and more bullets.

Overall, I dug the hell out of this and it’s a cool series that hits the right marks for me. It’s also better written and more entertaining than the comics that inspired it.

I’m pretty sure I’ll also jump on the third book, as that one crosses over with Graveyard Shift.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: Its predecessor, as well as Mark Poulton’s Graveyard Shift.

Comic Review: Sporkman Goes to Japan, Vol. 1-3

Published: December, 2020
Written by: Eric J. Berry, Charles Bonetti
Art by: Gifney Richata, Gingerfoxy

Wikid Publishing, 96 Pages (total)

Review:

This was a crowdfunded comic that I backed a few years ago. I think that it initially failed and had problems funding but eventually, after multiple campaigns, it got the money to come to life.

I didn’t mind waiting and I remember the price for these three comics as being rather low when compared to other campaigns out there. Being that I thought it was a good value and that it had a strong tokusatsu vibe to it, I supported it.

I’m glad that I finally got these three issues in my hands and I was impressed by the overall quality of the books, the paper stock, the printing and the colors. I work in a field where I manage a lot of print jobs and this did not disappoint in that regard. So extreme kudos to the creators for not taking shortcuts.

As far as the story goes, this is straight comedy and it parodies the tokusatsu, kaiju and mech genres of Japanese sci-fi.

The best thing about this was that it was actually funny and the jokes landed well. I liked the bumbling hero and seeing him rise to the challenge in spite of his generally buffoonery and the lack of faith from his allies.

This was a fun, amusing and most importantly, entertaining comic. It was a value, in my eyes, from day one and honestly, the finished product exceeded expectations.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: other comedy tokusatsu inspired comics.

Comic Review: The Witcher, Vol. 4: Of Flesh and Flame

Published: July 30th, 2019
Written by: Aleksandra Motyka
Art by: Marianna Strychowska
Based on: The Witcher novels by Andrzej Sapkowski

Dark Horse Comics, 106 Pages

Review:

I have reached the last comic story in The Witcher saga. Well, at least for now.

I’m sure that Dark Horse or eventually another publisher will do more in the future, as it continues to be a hot property, especially with the Netflix show and I’m assuming, future video games and maybe even novels.

While this wasn’t my favorite of the four stories I’ve read, it was still entertaining and a good amount of fun.

This also brought Dandelion into the comic book continuity and he’s a favorite character of mine from the only game I’ve played in the series, The Witcher 3: Blood Hunt.

This was done by a different creative team but they did just fine. The story was energetic and exciting while the art was also really good and pretty much consistent with the volumes that came out previously.

The plot was well constructed with a pretty good twist that I didn’t predict and it leaves you smiling with an amusing, satisfying ending.

All in all, for those who enjoy The Witcher mythos, this shouldn’t disappoint. Honestly, if you want to read the comics, I’d just buy the omnibus edition, as it includes all four of the volumes that have been published, thus far.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other Witcher comics.

Comic Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 14: Order From Chaos

Published: June 1st, 2016
Written by: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz
Art by: Michael Dialynas, Ken Garing
Based on: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird

IDW Publishing, 136 Pages

Review:

This volume of the long-running Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles‘ IDW run looked a little bit different, as the artists changed. That’s not a bad thing, though, as the art in this collection of issues was still pretty good and fit well within the tone of the series.

The writing was still very good and honestly, more than anything else, that’s what’s kept me reading this series for well over a dozen volumes, at this point.

This story is the first one after the defeat of Shredder and the landscape of the TMNT-verse is now very different. There is a new threat and we also get to see how the core characters are adjusting to major changes in their lives.

Master Splinter now runs the Foot Clan and with that, there are new challenges and a new female student that I know will go on to have a pretty big impact on this series going forward.

All in all, this was another good, action packed volume and the series still hasn’t lost steam.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: the rest of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles run.

Comic Review: The Witcher, Vol. 3: Curse of Crows

Published: July 4th, 2017
Written by: Paul Tobin
Art by: Piotr Kowalski
Based on: The Witcher novels by Andrzej Sapkowski

Dark Horse Comics, 128 Pages

Review:

I thought that the previous Witcher comic lost a bit of steam from the first volume. However, this one picked things back up quite a bit and thus far, this is my favorite comic story that features Geralt of Rivia.

This was also the first comic book story to feature Ciri and Yennefer, as well.

At first, I was a bit annoyed by it, as it felt kind of random with multiple little plot threads weaved together without any real direction. However, this came together rather nicely and told a really solid tale.

The art is also pretty good and this series, now three story arcs deep, has been really consistent.

I liked what this plot evolved into and how it resolved. Overall, a good, fun read in The Witcher universe.

Rating: 8.25/10
Pairs well with: other Witcher comics.