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: 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

Comic Review: Starblades, Vol. 1

Published: May, 2021
Written by: Kyle Ritter
Art by: Kyle Ritter

All Caps Comics, 48 Pages

Review:

Starblades is one of the Comicsgate associated, crowdfunded comic book campaigns that I was most looking forward to getting in my hands. I backed this quite awhile ago but I’m glad that it finally reached my mailbox.

The entire thing is written, illustrated, inked and colored by Kyle Ritter, a stupendous artist whose work I only know from being the colorist on Ethan Van Sciver’s modern Cyberfrog graphic novels.

I’ve got to say, Ritter is an accomplished artist outside of just being a highly skilled colorist. In fact, I’d say that his art gives Van Sciver a run for his money.

As far as the book goes, I liked this story for the most part. It plays as more of a setup for things to come and with that, I wish we got to see more of these characters in action but I’m still pretty happy with the limited time I got to spend with them, thus far.

At the end of the day, this was pretty satisfying and it made me want more. I hope that future installments can come out at a bit of a quicker pace. However, I will still patiently wait for them, as long as they maintain this level of quality.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: most likely its sequels, as well as other recent crowdfunded indie comics.

Comic Review: Cyberfrog: Unfrogettable Tales, Vol. 1 & 2

Published: October, 2020
Written by: Ethan Van Sciver
Art by: Ethan Van Sciver, Kyle Ritter

All Caps Comics, 64 Pages

Review:

Being that this was old school O.G. Cyberfrog, I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, I’m really happy to say that this was a fucking blast!

Ethan Van Sciver, Cyberfrog creator, has sort of downplayed his old shit and I think that this was mainly to lower expectations, as he might not have thought his original stuff was up to snuff, but it was a damn fun comic with stupendous art, which came to vibrant and spirited life with the great color work of Kyle Ritter.

Being that this was made in the early ’90s and takes place before the modern revival of the Cyberfrog character, makes it very different, tonally. In a lot of ways, though, if you enjoy the Cyberfrog mythos, this is a must read because it really lets you get to see the character in happier times doing what he does best and that’s merking punkass pieces of shit and cracking jokes at their expense.

I like EVS’ humor and with that extra bit of ’90s edgy boi panache, it really comes through and made me smile multiple times throughout these two fantastic issues.

Additionally, even though this was reworked and recolored for new fans, it’s damn cool to see Van Sciver’s earliest work. I’m a fan of the guy and for me that goes back to his work on Green Lantern, which brought me back to comics after nearly a decade of not giving a shit about them.

If you missed this campaign when it was crowdfunding on Indiegogo, you should still try your damnedest to track down a copy of both issues.

In the end, this keeps my enthusiasm for the man’s future work strong and I can’t wait to read what’s next.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: other Cyberfrog releases.

Comic Review: Cyberfrog: Amphibionix

Published: September, 2019
Written by: Ethan Van Sciver
Art by: Ethan Van Sciver, Kyle Ritter

All Caps Comics, 20 Pages

Review:

I really dug Cyberfrog: Bloodhoney and I also thought that the Cyberfrog 1998 ashcan was well done, if not slightly better in how it bridged a long gap and showed an improvement in overall storytelling. So I obviously went into this second ashcan with great enthusiasm.

Out of the three modern Cyberfrog releases, thus far, this one was my least favorite. That being said, it’s still really damn good and it’s still pretty consistent with the vibe, style and quality of the other two.

This one is kind of a side story from back in the day, before Cyberfrog went into a multiple decades hibernation. It follows him and his bestie, Heather Swain, before shit really hits the fan with the alien invasion that wrecked the planet.

In this short, one-off story, Cyberfrog has an evil nun impostor stuck to his shoulder blades. What follows is a series of comedic events, as he attempts to get the corpse off of him.

I like Ethan Van Sciver’s humor and it really shines here. In fact, that’s something that this book does better than the others.

Furthermore, Van Sciver once again shows why he is one of the best comic book artists of our time, as this just looks incredible, visually. I also have to give credit to colorist Kyle Ritter, who only gets better and better with every project he works on. I’m really looking forward to his Starblades comic book.

Cyberfrog: Amphibionix was a blast! While I am eager to continue on in the main story, as new installments come out, I hope that Van Sciver does find time to throw in some one-off stories like this one. Plus, I’m kind of a junkie for ashcans and mini-comics.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: Ethan’s Green Lantern and Flash stuff, as well as the original Cyberfrog run at Harris Comics.

Comic Review: Cyberfrog 1998: The Diary of Heather Swain

Published: September, 2019
Written by: Ethan Van Sciver
Art by: Ethan Van Sciver, Kyle Ritter

All Caps Comics, 20 Pages

Review:

Initially, I guess I didn’t back the two Cyberfrog ashcans on Indiegogo. I was anticipating getting them and then I didn’t when Cyberfrog: Bloodhoney came in the mail. Luckily, Ethan Van Sciver did a second campaign for those of us that missed out and I scooped them up. This is a review of the first of the two Cyberfrog ashcans I read.

Straight off, this pulled me right in and didn’t let go. I had to read it twice.

The story’s purpose is to fill in the blanks between the last time Cyberfrog was around (the late ’90s) up until now. He’s been relaunched for a new generation of readers and because Van Sciver still has nothing but immense love for this character he created and wasn’t able to work on for a few decades due to his commitments to DC Comics and his brief time at Marvel.

This twenty page ashcan does a stupendous job in bridging that gap, as we are brought up to speed through the words of Heather Swain, Cyberfrog’s human friend, who has had to tough it out in a post-apocalyptic world ruled by alien wasps that harvest humans for their blood. For over twenty years, her badass friend has been missing and she’s been on her own with her young daughter and a few other survivors.

Before all all these Cyberfrog books started coming out, many people wondered whether or not Van Sciver would be able to write as well as he draws. Well, now that the cat is out of the bag with three modern Cyberfrog releases, I’d say the answer is “yes”. I loved this and it really got me hyped for the future releases after Bloodhoney, which I’ve also already read and reviewed (see here).

Ultimately, these comics lived up to the hype. In fact, I feel as if they somewhat exceed it, as Van Sciver’s art has never been better and I say that as a guy that absolutely loved his Green Lantern work and credit it with getting me back into comics in the mid-’00s after taking nearly a decade off.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: Ethan’s Green Lantern and Flash stuff, as well as the original Cyberfrog run at Harris Comics.

Comic Review: Jawbreakers – GØD-K1NG

Published: December, 2019
Written by: Richard C. Meyer, Chuck Dixon
Art by: Aaron Alfeche, Charlie Snogans, Renzo Rodriguez, Ethan Van Sciver (cover), Kyle Ritter (cover)

Splatto Comics, 96 Pages

Review:

I gotta say, color me impressed over the fact that the wait for this book was minuscule compared to the wait for the first one. But first campaigns are learning experiences and Ya Boi Zack really refined how he does things.

But I’ve also got to say that this book was an improvement over the first one, which goes to show that Meyer listened to the criticism of his readers and used that as fuel to get better instead of having a public meltdown on Twitter like many comic book pros.

While I liked Jon Malin’s art in the first Jawbreakers, I like Aaron Alfeche’s more in this volume. He really captures these characters well and going forward, I hope that he is the regular Jawbreakers artist.

I’m not sure if I enjoyed the overall plot of this more than the first one, though, but it was still good, intense and it showed that these characters live in a universe where the dangers are real and actions come with real consequences. But I won’t spoil anything for those of you who haven’t read this yet.

Honestly, I think I like both stories about the same. The only real difference is that this one flows better, has better transitions from panel to panel and it just felt like it had more energy.

This trade paperback actually features four stories with the GØD-K1NG story taking up at least half of the book. After it, there are two extra Jawbreakers related stories and then a sneak preview of a project that Chuck Dixon is working on.

Overall, this was an improvement over the first book and I feel like the creative team that was assembled for this round were firing on all cylinders. Everything seemed to click well and this one made me excited for its eventual followup.

Side note: the bonus story with the art by Charlie Snogans looks dynamite. I love that guy’s art and I hope to see more from him in the future.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: Richard C. Meyer’s Jawbreakers – Lost Souls, as well as Iron Sights.

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: Lonestar: Heart of the Hero

Published: February, 2019
Written by: Mike S. Miller
Art by: Mike S. Miller, Kyle Ritter (color on covers)

Blacklist Universe, 48 Pages

Review:

If I’m being honest, I can’t say that Lonestar was the Comicsgate associated book that I was most looking forward to. I bought it just to see how it was and to review it. But with that being said, it is the best Comicsgate related comic that has made it to my mailbox, thus far.

I didn’t know much about Mike S. Miller until I saw him enter Ethan Van Sciver’s orbit. But as I got to know him through YouTube and Twitter, I was made aware of more of his past work and I do own a lot of the stuff he’s worked on and find his art to be really good.

Now at first glance, one might see Lonestar as a mash up of Captain America and vigilante heroes like Daredevil, the Punisher, Deathstroke (on good days) or the Vigilante. And one might think, “Do we need another vigilante superhero?”

Lonestar is pretty interesting though, as he isn’t just a street level vigilante but he works on a special black ops team that fights supernatural threats like vampires. So there is almost an element of G.I. Joe and classic horror also thrown into the mix. Since these are all things that I love, I found this pretty damn fun to read. And it is also well-balanced between all of these various elements.

This release is 48 pages and the story will be continued in a future volume. But there is enough here to really make you understand the hero, as well as this comic title. Miller did a solid job with the plotting as he gave this character depth, personality and purpose all within this first release. He also established a real threat for our hero to face down the road. The pacing of the story was good and a lot happens in a limited space. I’m not too keen on the dialogue, however. It’s not terrible but it’s also not very good. I think it’s an indicator that these Comnicsgate titles need an editor. I felt the same way after reading Jawbreakers. There just needs to be an extra step where these things can be fine tuned better.

In the end, I like this character and that’s the most important factor in selling me on the idea of supporting future releases.

Mike S. Miller’s art is also the best that I’ve seen from the Comicsgate camp. I think that Ethan Van Sciver’s Cyberfrog will take the cake, once it’s released, but Miller is an accomplished artist with decades worth of experience working for major publishers and his level of craftsmanship is made very apparent just from the first page of Lonestar. His style might not work for everyone but art is subjective and people have different tastes. But this looks like a top book from a top publisher and boasts more artistic skill than a lot of what Marvel and DC Comics are putting out in 2019. That’s not to say that every panel was great. There were a few spots where I didn’t like the perspective or the anatomy.

If I’m being honest, the primary cover of the book didn’t make me want to buy it. The variants were much better. The picture used in this review is of the second cover, which is the one I purchased.

Lonestar: Heart of the Hero surprised me. It really caught me off guard and that’s not a knock against what I think of Miller, it just didn’t immediately resonate with me at the same level as other comic books I’ve backed over the last year on Indiegogo or Kickstarter. But I am happy that I supported it and I will continue to keep an eye out for Miller’s future campaigns.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: I’m sure future Lonestar and Mike S. Miller releases, as well as other recent Comicsgate books like Richard C. Meyer’s Jawbreakers.

Comic Review: Jawbreakers – Lost Souls

Published: February, 2019
Written by: Richard C. Meyer
Art by: Jon Malin, Brett R. Smith, Eric Weathers, Simon Bennett (Book One), Kelsey Shannon (Book Two), Ethan Van Sciver (cover), Kyle Ritter (cover)

Splatto Comics, 120 Pages

Review:

Well, after a very long wait, Richard C. Meyer’s Jawbreakers – Lost Souls has finally arrived. It took awhile to come out but Meyer has kept people clued in every step of the way due to all the roadblocks and challenges that popped up during this comic’s creation to it finally getting in the consumers’ hands.

I’m glad that I finally got it, as I’ve wanted to review it for a long time.

Full disclosure, I’m not a Comicsgater but I get lumped into that label by people who don’t like those of us who question things or criticize the comic book industry. Also, when I reviewed Meyer’s Iron Sights, I upset a lot of those who lean in a direction opposite of Meyer and most of his supporters. But I liked Iron Sights, despite its issues, and gave that one a 6.75 out of 10.

That being said, Jawbreakers is a step up from Iron Sights but I still have some issues with it, overall.

For the most part, the art in the Lost Souls story is pretty good. Jon Malin is talented but I’m not always a fan of his characters. Everything looks very sleek and his characters seem a bit slender and elongated in certain poses. Still, he’s much better than the average bear and he’s only getting better with more high profile projects under his belt. I’m pretty excited about his Graveyard Shift comic, which are now hitting mailboxes.

Brett R. Smith’s colors are absolutely fantastic though. I also love the cover by Ethan Van Sciver and Kyle Ritter.

This release also features two “remastered” versions of older Jawbreakers stories. One is drawn by Simon Bennett while the other is done by Kelsey Shannon, who also did the Iron Sights cover. These two additions to this release don’t look as good as Malin’s work. Bennett’s parts need more refinement. Shannon’s are better but I’m not a huge fan of the style he uses here and it’s not as polished as his Iron Sights cover, which was actually stunning.

I thought the story was decent, as it is similar to a G.I. Joe story with a kaiju thrown in. I love both of those things, so mixing them is a cool idea. However, this isn’t G.I. Joe. I’d say it’s better than what IDW Publishing has done with the actual G.I. Joe franchise in the years since Chuck Dixon stopped writing it but this feels a bit thin.

If I’m being honest, I need to know something about the characters’ backstories. Here they are thrown into a situation and you just go along for the ride. Meyer needs to develop these characters a bit more but since he has plans to use these characters in the future, maybe we’ll get to know them better. Right now, they feel like generic placeholders or those G.I. Joes that would pop up into a story because they had an action figure but they weren’t popular enough to get more than a minor cameo.

This might sound harsh and I don’t mean it to be but G.I. Joe had a lot of toy companies that knocked them off with toylines like The Corps! and X-Troop. Right now, this feels more like The Corps! than G.I. Joe. It is kind of generic but again, that’s probably because these characters need more depth. I need to care about them and I don’t just off of this story.

I do like that this just gets to the action and it’s pretty much balls to the wall from start to finish. But over time, we’ll need more than that. I can excuse the lack of depth being that this is, right now, a one-off action story.

Jawbreakers is a good start to something but it will take some time to turn it into a brand. The problem with that though, is that crowdfunded comics take a long time to create and distribute. This is one of my criticisms of doing comics this way when I’ve lived in a world where my favorite heroes and teams hit my pull box on a monthly basis. It is much easier finding yourself invested in characters and stories that come out with some regularity. I don’t know if crowdfunded comic franchises in the making can succeed in that way. Plus, people lose interest in things when there’s a long wait.

But for now, I did enjoy this. I certainly don’t have any sort of buyer’s remorse. This was a cool experiment and the end product mostly delivers.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: Richard C. Meyer’s Iron Sights.