Comic Review: Hellboy Vs. Lobster Johnson in the Ring of Death – One-Shot

Published: May 29th, 2019
Written by: Mike Mignola, Chris Roberson
Art by: Paul Grist, Mike Norton, Dave Stewart, Paolo Rivera (cover)

Dark Horse Comics, 24 Pages

Review:

I’ll be honest, I bought this strictly for the cover.

Still, I’m a Hellboy fan so I at least knew that I’d most likely enjoy the whole comic.

For the most part, this was a good read. It doesn’t seem to mean much in the grander scheme of things but it entertained me for a bit and it even threw in a bit of lucha libre to sweeten the pot.

The art was good throughout and the story was energetic and fun.

But man, I just couldn’t take my eye off of the cover and I’d buy a poster print of it in a heartbeat.

And that’s it. This is a one-shot. There’s not much to say without ruining the story. Ultimately, it doesn’t seem important and maybe this should have felt like it had more of a reason to exist but whatever.

So I’ll keep this one short and sweet because the comic was short and sweet.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other Hellboy comics.

Documentary Review: Comic Book Kingdom (2018)

Release Date: May 25th, 2018 (Brighton Rocks Film Festival)
Directed by: Marius Smuts
Music by: Maz Iannone
Cast: Edward Bentley, Laurence Campbell, Matt Hardy, Kev Hopgood, Inko, Chie Kutsuwada, Ian Sharman, Zara Slattery, Myfanwy Tristram, Nigel Twumasi

MSP, 61 Minutes

Review:

Surprisingly, this has been out for a year and it doesn’t even have a rating on IMDb. Also, I couldn’t find a trailer for it, so one won’t accompany this post.

This was a short, one hour documentary that focuses on indie comic creators from the UK.

For the most part, this was enjoyable and interesting. Most of the people featured I had never heard of but this delves into a myriad of indie comic book styles, as well as some manga.

The documentary is mostly just a bunch of talking head interviews cut together but it’s at least well organized and edited decently, even though it jumps back and forth. A lot of these comic book talking head pieces can be all over the map; this one isn’t.

My only real complaint with it, is I wish that it edited in more footage of artists creating, as they talked. It does show some of that but nowhere near enough. I’m always into seeing how artists create, as they create, and it feels like that’s an afterthought here.

But this wasn’t a bad way to spend an hour and it’s streaming for free on Prime Video if you have an account.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: other recent comic book documentaries, many of which I have already reviewed.

*NO TRAILER AVAILABLE*

 

Comic Review: Michael Allred’s Madman, Vol. 1

Published: July 23rd, 2008 (collected and reprinted)
Written by: Mike Allred
Art by: Mike Allred, Laura Allred

Tundra Publishing, Dark Horse Comics, Image Comics (reprint), 294 Pages

Review:

I’ve had a few issues of Mike Allred’s Madman in my comic collection since the ’90s. I never had a complete story arc, however, so I never got to give it a real read.

I figured I’d check out the first collected volume, which collects his first two miniseries.

The first story is in black and white with nice grayish blue shading. The second arc is in full, vibrant color. Regardless of the presentation, both stories that were included here were a lot of fun and the art was pulpy and terrific.

Allred has a good sense of humor that works well for the character and this series. In some ways, it reminded me of the experience I had reading Rob Schrab’s Scud: The Disposable Assassin or Doug TenNapel’s Creature Tech.

While Madman is a product of the ’90s comic book industry, it feels timeless. I let my friend’s kid read this as well and she thought it was pretty damn funny even for modern teenager standards.

Madman is energetic, endearing and just a really cool comic. I dug the hell out of it and plan on completing it by collecting all the floppies out there.

But that could take some time and I don’t want to hold off on jumping into volume two, which I will do in the very near future.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: later Madman collections, as well as other work by Mike Allred. Plus, Rob Schrab’s Scud: The Disposable Assassin and Doug TenNapel’s Creature Tech and Bigfoot Bill.

Comic Review: Cobra II: Act 1: Claw Marks

Published: 2018
Written by: Teddy Goldenberg
Art by: Teddy Goldenberg
Based on: Cobra by Sylvester Stallone, Cannon Films

Teddy Goldenberg Comics, 36 Pages

Review:

Sly Stallone’s Cobra is one of my favorite ’80s action films. It’s a movie I’ve wanted a sequel to since I first saw it in 1986, as a seven year-old that knew more about Cannon Films entire filmography than Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus.

So once I discovered that an unofficial sequel in comic book form came out in 2018, I had to track down a copy. I went directly to its creator’s website and purchased it. It’s actually quite affordable, even with shipping from Israel and it arrived much quicker than I had anticipated.

It’s also really cool that the writer/artist Teddy Goldenberg is from Israel, as that’s where Golan and Globus originated from.

All that being said, this was a lot of fun to read. It’s well written for fans of the original film, especially in regards to its tone. I thought the humor was solid and there are more than a few panels that had me laugh out loud in a literal sense.

The art isn’t the best but it doesn’t need to be. This feels like a true blue bootleg comic from a bygone era and it’s actually better than the art from the Hungarian bootleg Cobra adaptation I read earlier this year. Plus, Goldenberg does a pretty good job at getting the likeness of Stallone to come across.

The art may feel unrefined in some regard but there is talent within it and it’s imperfections are what make it so cool to look at. I’m not saying that the art style is deliberate but it works and it works damn well.

If you love Cobra as much as I do, you really need to get yourself a copy of this really cool comic. Plus, it’s roughly ashcan size and everyone loves ashcans.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: the bootleg Hungarian Cobra comic book I recently reviewed here.

Comic Review: Conan Chronicles – Epic Collection II: The Heart of Yag-Kosha

Published: April 16th, 2019
Written by: Kurt Busiek, Mike Mignola, Timothy Truman
Art by: Cary Nord, Greg Ruth, Timothy Truman, Eric Powell, Mike Mignola
Based on: Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard

Dark Horse Comics, Marvel (reprinted), 504 Pages

Review:

Since I really dug the hell out of the first volume of the Kurt Busiek run on Conan, I wasted no time jumping into the second Epic Collection.

This carries on with the same quality in writing and art as the previous massive collection and was also a really awesome read.

I ended up liking the first one just a bit more because it seemed to have more action and longer, deeper stories but there isn’t much to complain about with this one. There seemed to be more dialogue and a lot of new characters added into the series but it still captured the right tone and spirit.

This volume also adapts some of Robert E. Howard’s original Conan stories. It was really cool reading the comic book version of The Tower of the Elephant for the first time, as I always enjoyed that story in its original medium.

Mike Mignola also did some of the covers and wrote some of the stuff in this collection. I really liked seeing Conan in Mignola’s artistic style.

Ultimately, this was another solid outing and something that I’m sure I’ll go back to and read again in the future.

This was over 500 pages in length but I feel like I ripped through it in no time, as it was hard to put down.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: the rest of Kurt Busiek’s Conan run, as well as other Conan comics from the Dark Horse era.

Comic Review: Cerebus, Vol. 1 (Issues #1-25)

Published: December, 1977 – April, 1981
Written by: Dave Sim
Art by: Dave Sim

Aardvark-Vanaheim, 534 Pages

Review:

Cerebus is the longest running independent comic book of all-time that hasn’t altered its numbering, rebranded or taken any breaks in-between story arcs. It finished in 2004 with its 300th issue but that will be surpassed by Todd McFarlane’s Spawn, later this year. However, Cerebus creator Dave Sim wrote and worked on every single issue of Cerebus where McFarlane often times had other creatives come in to write stories.

Strangely, the first time I read a story with Cerebus in it, was actually in an early issue of Spawn, which was written by Dave Sim. I then remembered that I had an issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that also featured Cerebus and then I gave that one a read.

I loved the character but I learned about him when he was about halfway through his series. But from that time on, I picked up Cerebus comics from time to time and gave them a read. I was always pretty amused by the character and his stories but never got to read any of his full story arcs until now.

I wanted to start at the beginning, even though the first 25 issues aren’t one complete arc like everything else would be from issue 26 onward. But these issues featured several short, roughly three issue arcs. Also, these issues presented Cerebus as a parody of the sword and sorcery comics that were big at the time. This mostly pokes fun at the characters created by Robert E. Howard, most notably Conan the Barbarian and Red Sonja.

This was a lot of run to read. Even though this collection of Sim’s early Cerebus work was beefy, I got through it rather quickly, as I found it pretty hard to put down. But I’m also a fan of a lot of the things that Sim was parodying and while I hear some people think that a lot of the material seems dated now, I still laughed out loud as if the content was current. But I still read sword and sorcery and superhero comics from that era.

What’s really impressive is that all of the art in this volume is drawn by Sim. His regular artist Gerhard didn’t come on until issue 65, well after this volume of material, as well as its follow up, the beloved High Society.

I really dig Sim’s art though. You can actually see it evolve and get better over the three and a half year span that he spent on these issues. Even Cerebus, the character, evolves and his look gets more refined and consistent.

Additionally, the quality of the writing improves and I found the humor to be better as the book progressed. Some of the jokes and jabs are subtle and most people reading this today might miss them but Sim is pretty clever and is humor is much smarter than just being simple parody.

Cerebus is deeper than what it appears to be and it’s as if, by the end of this, Sim’s creative flow adjusted and he found ways to put his take on things into the book. It’s always got a lighthearted and amusing tone but by the end of these 25 issues, he is already scratching away at something more beneath the surface and that’s probably why he went into the High Society arc right after this.

But all the real groundwork is done here and this is the foundation of everything that came after it. Without this book and Sim’s evolution over the course of these issues, we wouldn’t have gotten something as compelling and rich as the work that follows.

Had Cerebus not evolved into something more, I don’t think it would have lasted as long as it did. But Sim committed to 300 issues, pretty early on in this comic’s history, and that probably couldn’t have even been a thought if he didn’t use these earlier stories to refine and flesh out what exactly Cerebus was.

I don’t agree with many of the things that Sim tries to hammer home in his work but he also doesn’t wreck the series by always letting it drive his creative output. Granted, I haven’t yet read the much later stuff but I plan on it, as I work my way through this series from the beginning.

While this collection feels like a trial, experimental run for the series, it’s still an entertaining and charming read and I dug the hell out of it.

Rating: 9.25/10
Pairs well with: later Cerebus story arcs and what it parodies: ’70s Conan, Red Sonja and Kull the Conqueror comics.