Comic Review: Earthbound: Between Two Breaths On Earth

Published: 2019
Written by: Narwhal
Art by: Narwhal

Narwhal Books, 148 Pages

Review:

I’ve backed a lot of crowdfunded comics over the last few years but this was one that I didn’t initially support. But after hearing a lot of praise for it, I figured I’d grab a copy after the initial batch had already been sold and sent out.

For the most part, this was pretty enjoyable and it’s hard not to be impressed with anyone who writes and does the art for their own creation.

While the story didn’t fully connect with me, I didn’t find it boring and actually thought it was interesting and I could see why so many people were fans of it.

Granted, this is the first of two parts and I don’t want to be too harsh as the overall narrative is still incomplete. But as its own standalone release, it builds up without a real satisfying payoff.

Additionally, the art is competent but it’s not my cup of tea. I did really like the coloring, however, and it gave this a very unique aesthetic that enriched the total experience.

I guess my biggest takeaway from this is that it is a good start but it needs more refinement. That should come with time, as long as Narwhal, this trade paperback’s creator, keeps plugging away at his craft.

It does leave me fairly enthusiastic about whatever else he could do in the future.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: other recent indie sci-fi comics like Downcast, Gods & Gears, Eden, Exilium, and Feast or Famine.

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.

Vids I Dig 356: Comic Tropes: Bernard Krigstein: The Most Influential Comic Book Artist

From Comic Tropes’ YouTube description: Bernard Krigstein had a relatively short run in comic books in the 40s through the early 60s but his impact was tremendous. Art scholars and comic book aficionados have studied Krigstein’s work, especially the comics he illustrated at EC Comics in the 50s. He had a philosophy that changed the way artists approached comic book storytelling. In this episode I talk about what comics were like before Krigstein’s work and how his pages changed modern storytelling techniques. This includes a deep dive into his famous story Master Race from Impact #1.

Comic Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 5: Krang War

Published: May 1st, 2013
Written by: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz
Art by: Andy Kuhn
Based on: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird

IDW Publishing, 107 Pages

Review:

With as many comics as I read, I’ve already reached volume five of IDW’s modern Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, despite having to mix in a lot of other titles from other publishers for review purposes. Plus, I like to spread the love.

However, as I’ve said in the reviews of the four previous volumes, I really dig the hell out of this series.

This installment really changes the course of the series somewhat, as it has the Turtles crossover into Dimension X for the first time and it also makes them aware of General Krang, who has really only operated in the shadows, thus far.

This also continues to delve into the rivalry between Krang and Shredder, as they aren’t immediate allies like old school fans might assume. With that, it also further develops Shredder’s granddaughter, a character I’m really starting to like.

As far as the writing and the art, it’s all consistent with the volumes that came before this. But I really liked seeing the writers and artist explore the Dimension X realm. It gave the series more weight and brought in some new visual flourish by taking the heroes out of New York City for a quick story arc.

The next two volumes are a larger arc broken out into two parts. I’ll probably read and review them as a whole, however.

So far, so good with the IDW TMNT run, though. I wish I had started to read these earlier on.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: the rest of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles run.

Comic Review: Iron Sights: 2 Psychos

Published: May, 2020
Written by: Richard C. Meyer, Carlos I. Silva
Art by: Ibai Canales, Kelsey Shannon (cover)

Splatto Comics, 100 Pages

Review:

I really dug the first Iron Sights, which upset some of the sensitive, snowflake types that are out to “cancel” Richard C. Meyer just because he criticized a dying comic book industry full of talentless shitheads.

Anyway, I’m happy to say that I enjoyed this sequel even more. Meyer had a few issues with his writing in his earliest books but he’s definitely improved quite a bit in the less than two years since he’s been publishing his own comics on a regular basis.

That being said, unlike his detractors, Meyer listens to criticism and learns from it, which is apparent after seeing how he’s improved over his last two releases.

Overall, I enjoyed this story a lot, even more so than the first and it has some interesting surprises that makes me enthused about the eventual third book. I don’t want to spoil any of the plot details but if you are a fan of neo-western films of the last decade or two, this will most assuredly be your cup of tea.

Additionally, the artist, Ibai Canales received a lot of criticism over the first Iron Sights. While his style wasn’t for everyone, I liked it. However, in this second story, the guy has vastly improved over his previous work. It gives me hope for the future, as I see the guy only getting better, as he keeps working at his craft. Seriously, he’s made really noticeable improvement here and I’m glad that Meyer kept him on and gave him the opportunity to keep working on this series.

At it’s core, this is a hard-edged, action packed crime saga that goes for the gusto and succeeds at building off of what came before it while keeping the reader excited about what could be next.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: it’s predecessor, as well as Richard C. Meyer’s Jawbreakers comics.

Comic Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 4: Sins of the Fathers

Published: February 6th, 2013
Written by: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz
Art by: Andy Kuhn
Based on: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird

IDW Publishing, 122 Pages

Review:

This series has been on a really good trajectory, thus far. The first three volumes covered a lot of ground with great, energetic, action-packed stories. So I guess eventually, you’d have to reach a slower chapter and this is it.

That’s not to say that this is boring or that it’s not up to snuff, it just spends a bit more time on fleshing out some characters and this version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mythos.

A breather also felt needed, as the story could’ve easily gotten away from itself if it stayed primarily focused on action and having to make the characters fight too much.

This also started to give General Krang and his species some backstory, which we hadn’t gotten up to this point. His relationship with Baxter Stockman is pretty interesting and it’s developing and evolving while really painting the picture that this version of Krang is truly dangerous and not the buffoon people are mostly familiar with from the original cartoon series.

There is also a good moment in this between Splinter and Raphael, as Raph learns an important lesson. But that lesson also leads to Casey Jones essentially becoming the Turtles’ roommate.

I was pretty happy with this volume, I truly dig this series and I can’t wait to keep reading through it.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: the rest of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles run.

Comic Review: Stumptown, Vol. 4: The Case of a Cup of Joe

Published: January 25th, 2017
Written by: Greg Rucka
Art by: Justin Greenwood, Ryan Hill

Oni Press, 143 Pages

Review:

This fourth and final volume of Stumptown was definitely a step up from the fairly mundane third chapter. Granted, I still wasn’t as engaged by this story as I was the first two.

The plot here is more interesting than the previous book but there doesn’t feel like there’s any real danger here for the characters, as the heavies in this are inexperienced hipsters from the coffee scene and not legitimate, dangerous criminals and brutes that have actually gotten blood on their hands.

In fact, this felt more like a comedy than a neo-noir crime drama.

Maybe Greg Rucka wanted to go out on a lighter note with this one but it lacks the gravity of the earlier stories and certainly pales in comparison to the darker, grittier and more realistic neo-noir comic book tales by Ed Brubaker.

I didn’t think this was a waste but it didn’t hit the mark and just didn’t pull me in and hold onto me like the first two volumes did.

There’s really not much else to say. This is just about a bunch of rich eccentrics and hipsters trying to acquire some magic coffee beans.

The end.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: the other Stumptown volumes, as well as Gotham CentralKill Or Be Killed, The Fade Out and Sin City.

Comic Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 3: Shadows of the Past

Published: September 26th, 2012
Written by: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz
Art by: Dan Duncan
Based on: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird

IDW Publishing, 105 Pages

Review:

Does this series keep improving with every volume? Why, yes it does!

So far, this was my favorite release in the collected trade paperback versions of IDW’s rebooted Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series.

My only real complaint about these is that I feel like each one should be longer than just four issues. However, the story arcs seem to fit this format thus far, as each of these truly feels like their own chapter in a larger novel.

In this one, we see Splinter and Shredder finally meet face-to-face. They also come to the realization that each is their ancient mortal enemy, meeting again in the modern world because destiny is a real bitch.

This also sees the Turtles get into their first official fight with Shredder while also meeting a new ally in Angel, along with her gang The Purple Dragons. We also see April come to discover just who the Turtles and Splinter are. Frankly, a lot happens in little time and even if there is a lot of story, there is also a lot of action.

This is a well-balanced series between its narrative, character building, relationship development and the action itself.

I love how this rebooted reimagining by original creator Kevin Eastman has set the foundation for what’s to come. This truly is a solid and satisfying series up to this point and I hope that this greatness maintains throughout.

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

Comic Review: Judge Dredd: Year One

Published: November 20th, 2013
Written by: Matt Smith
Art by: Simon Coleby, Greg Staples
Based on: Judge Dredd by John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra and Pat Mills

IDW Publishing, 105 Pages

Review:

This has been in my Comixology queue for awhile, so I figured it was time to give it a read.

Being that this is a Year One story, it focuses on the Judge Dredd character very early in his career. He’s still green, lacks experience and has to rely on his training, his undeveloped skills and the knowledge he gets from his seasoned superiors.

In this story, he has to deal with a strange psychic phenomenon that starts popping up, which gives powers to regular people and in the first part of this story, a group of juvenile delinquents.

The setup is interesting but the story doesn’t do much to capitalize off of that and just sort of falls flat and honestly, isn’t all that exciting or engaging.

I guess the high point for me would be the art. It was pretty good and I liked the tone of the comic. But beyond that, we’re just given an interesting concept that just doesn’t pan out into anything worthwhile.

This isn’t a stinker but it’s certainly forgettable.

Rating: 5.75/10
Pairs well with: other Judge Dredd stories by IDW.