Comic Review: The Complete ’90s Cyberfrog: Warts and All

Published: August, 2021
Written by: Ethan Van Sciver
Art by: Ethan Van Sciver, Kyle Ritter (cover colors)

All Caps Comics, 416 Pages

Review:

I’m a big sucker for presentation and that probably has something to do with the fact that I work in marketing and do a lot of packaging design, myself. That being said, when this arrived at my door, I was immediately blown away by just the shipping box not to mention the treasure trove of wonderful shit inside.

Most importantly, though, was the main comic itself, a hardcover omnibus of Van Sciver’s original Cyberfrog stuff from the ’90s. Most of which I haven’t read until now.

I think the thing that I liked most about this was seeing a young Ethan Van Sciver’s work evolving from the beginning-to-end of this collection. Things get more and more fine tuned, as you go from issue-to-issue in this.

I also like that it was presented in its original format, whether that be black and white or with ’90s era coloring.

As far as the stories go, this is a mixed bag but it’s not a bad mixed bag. I enjoyed most of it but it was clear that Van Sciver was searching for his footing with not just this character but the whole mythos around the character.

It’s also pretty clear which comics Van Sciver was inspired by at the time but that’s not too dissimilar from most comic book artists’ earliest work. When I drew comics in the early ’90s, it was very clear that I was pulling from a lot of the stuff created by the original Image Comics partners. It was hard to draw comics in that era and not be inspired by that stuff, especially if you wanted to sell comics.

All in all, this is one hell of an awesome release by Ethan Van Sciver’s All Caps Comics and my favorite thing I’ve gotten other than the first of the modern Cyberfrog releases.

Rating: 9/10

Comic Review: The Cimmerian, Vol. 2

Published: June 2nd, 2021
Written by: Robin Recht, Sylvain Runberg, Robert E. Howard
Art by: Jae Kwang Park, Robin Recht
Based on: Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard

Ablaze, 168 Pages

Review:

This volume in Ablaze’s The Cimmerian series was more of a mixed bag than the first one.

Reason being, I thought the first story was slow, overloaded and a big step down from the previous two tales in the first volume, while I thought that the second story was really good and well adapted.

The two famous Robert E. Howard Conan stories that were adapted here are “The People of the Black Circle” and “The Frost-Giant’s Daughter”.

The first one is a story I like in its original form but it was really wedged into the short space that it was allotted for this adaptation. It needed more room to breathe and because of that, I don’t necessarily blame the writer and artist as much as I do the publisher.

Due to that, the story featured pages with lots of dialogue and tiny panels that made this look more like an advent calendar than a comic book. It was hard to read, flowed poorly and was kind of exhausting. I wasn’t really put off by the art style, itself, just how it had to be whittled down and stuffed with too much.

Now the second story was pretty great and it salvaged this volume of The Cimmerian and my rating of it.

“The Frost-Giant’s Daughter” has always been one of my favorite Conan tales and with the style of art, here, it looked magnificent and mesmerizing. The atmosphere, visually, was perfect.

Additionally, the adaptation was solid. There’s really not a whole lot to say other than it was pretty close to perfect, top-to-bottom, and the best adaptation Ablaze has done yet, although I really, really liked “Red Nails”.

So with that, this volume is suffering from multiple personality disorder. At least it went out with a serious bang and I’ll most likely be picking up the third volume when it drops in a few months.

Rating: 7/10

Comic Review: The Cimmerian, Vol. 1

Published: December 23rd, 2020
Written by: Regis Hautiere, Jean-David Morvan, Robert E. Howard
Art by: Pierre Alary, Didier Cassegrain, Olivier Vatine
Based on: Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard

Ablaze, 144 Pages

Review:

Now that Conan has fallen into public domain, at least the earliest stories, anyway, other publishers besides Marvel can now make Conan comics. Ablaze is the first company that I’m aware of that has taken their shot at adapting the iconic character.

In this collection, we get Ablaze’s adaptations of “Queen of the Black Coast” and “Red Nails”.

I like both of these stories a lot and always have because the first one features Bêlit, the swashbuckling pirate queen, and the other features Valeria, another female warrior that was great at Conan’s side.

Starting with the “Queen of the Black Coast” story, I thought the adaptation was pretty good but it also flew by rather quickly. I mostly liked the art, the dialogue was good and it felt pretty true to the story.

For me, though, “Red Nails” was the better half of this collection. I liked the art more, the story felt longer and more detailed and it had the right sort of vibe, matching Robert E. Howard’s source material.

All in all, this reminded me a lot of the old Savage Sword of Conan magazines that Marvel put out back in the day. These comics had a harder edge to them and didn’t pull any punches unlike the modern Marvel stuff that tries to appeal more to all ages.

Rating: 7.5/10

Comic Review: Impossible Stars

Published: August, 2021
Written by: Richard C. Meyer, Chuck Dixon
Art by: Renzo Rodriguez

Splatto Comics, 64 Pages

Review:

The latest release from Richard C. Meyer to hit my mailbox was Impossible Stars, a comic story that’s very different than anything else he’s released previously.

This is a space adventure which sees a captain and his crew go on a chase to stop another rogue captain. With that, there’s a good amount of tension and a “race against time” plot.

Overall, though, this didn’t really hit the mark for me. I still enjoyed it but if I’m being honest, I could take it or leave it and I don’t know how enthused I’ll be about a potential follow up.

The characters are decently developed but, overall, this is a pretty short trade paperback and there’s only so much room to develop several characters and tell the story.

I felt like once I reached the climax, it was over pretty quickly and everything felt kind of moot, overall. This is probably due to the world not being fleshed out beyond a surface layer.

The real highlight for me was the art. Renzo Rodriguez’s work was pretty damn good and I hope the guy gets a lot more work going forward and this release should really get a lot of comic writers looking his way with money in their hands.

Rating: 6/10

Comic Review: Cyberfrog: Unfrogettable Tales, Vol. 3

Published: August, 2021
Written by: Ethan Van Sciver
Art by: Ethan Van Sciver, Kyle Ritter

All Caps Comics, 32 Pages

Review:

I actually forgot that this was something that was coming my way, as it was packaged with another Cyberfrog release and I ordered that sometime last year. But I don’t remember half of what’s coming from the stuff I bought on crowdfunding sites, as many projects are severely delayed and with that, I stopped caring.

Granted, Ethan Van Sciver’s stuff always shows up and the work is always top notch.

This was the third release under the Unfrogettable Tales title and with that, it features an old school, original Cyberfrog comic, remastered and recolored for modern fans, who might not have even been alive when this was originally released. And even if they were, Cyberfrog was still pretty damn underground in the character’s early days.

This was pretty fun to read, I loved the art, the humor and the new color work by Kyle Ritter is just f’n amazing. That dude has immense talent and I’m glad to see him keep getting work with Van Sciver while also working on his own series, Starblades.

Because this is an old school, ’90s Cyberfrog story, it takes place way before the current stories, which see Earth overrun by an alien threat with small pockets of humanity hiding in the shadows. So with this, we see Cyberfrog still in the world when it was normal. We also get to see one of his earliest encounters with Heather Swain, who would become his best friend and confidant.

For fans of the modern revival of Cyberfrog, reading this old stuff will add more context to the stories that are currently being produced. So if you love world building, nuance, context and all that important shit that gives exciting tales deeper meaning, then you should be reading these as well.

Rating: 7.5/10