Comic Review: Everglade Angels

Published: February, 2020
Written by: Scott Lobdell, Blake Northcott
Art by: John Upchurch

Northworld Publishing, 48 Pages

Review:

I backed this campaign on Indiegogo several months back and I was really excited to finally get my copy of the graphic novel.

For one, I love slasher movies. I also live and grew up on the edge of the Florida Everglades. So combining those two things is a win/win for me.

Additionally, this was written by Scott Lobdell, a writer I’ve liked for years, and Blake Northcott, a mutual follower on Twitter, who has a great personality, a solid perspective on how to manage her social media, and most importantly, a stupendous track record.

That being said, I really liked this quite a bit.

The characters were all cool and well developed in the minimal space they had to live and breathe. I also liked the backstory for the villains.

The art is also really good and for a crowdfunded book, this truly is in the upper echelon of comics I’ve seen. It’s actually better than most of the mainstream comics coming out in 2020. I especially like the colors and overall visual aesthetic of the book.

There’s not much else I can say without spoiling too much and I’d rather people go out and pick this up, assuming they still can somewhere.

I’m not sure if any follow ups are planned but I’d probably support a sequel.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other horror/slasher comics. It really reminded me of Hack/Slash stories.

Comic Review: X-Men: The Age of Apocalypse – The Complete Epic

Published: 1995-1996
Written by: Scott Lobdell, Jeph Loeb, John Francis Moore, Mark Waid, Warren Ellis, Fabian Nicieza, Larry Hama, Howard Mackie, Terry Kavanagh
Art by: Roger Cruz, Terry Dodson, Steve Epting, Andy Kubert, Adam Kubert, Carlos Pacheco, Joe Madureira, Tony Daniel, Salvador Larroca, Chris Bachalo, Ken Lashley, Steve Skroce, Ian Churchill, Joe Bennett

Marvel Comics, 1462 Pages

Review:

I’ve really only heard great things about The Age of Apocalypse storyline since it started back in 1995, an era where I wasn’t really reading comics for awhile, except for Dark Horse’s Star Wars stuff.

In fact, the last major X-Men related event that I had read before this was X-Cutioner’s Song, a pretty good epic. But shortly after that, I got pretty burnt out once the top Marvel guys went off to form Image and then those comics were constantly hindered by delays and irregular schedules.

Based off of all the praise I heard, I always wanted to read this but it was such a massive story, spread over multiple collected volumes that I never really wanted to fork out the over $100 it would cost to buy the whole shebang. So, all these years later, I took advantage of a massive X-Men sale on Comixology and got the entire saga with its prelude for about $20.

Now that I’ve read it, I’m glad I only spent $20 because like Game of Thrones, all my friends and all the critics lied to me about how great this was. It’s not, it’s a clusterfuck of biblical proportions showcasing a lot of the things that were wrong with mid-’90s comic book art from the major publishers.

I’ll start with the art and just come out and say that this was mostly an eyesore to look at. The biggest reason was the colors, which relied so heavily on what I assume are digitally created gradients and overly vibrant colors that this was like staring into the asshole of a tropical fruit salad for hours. Everything is too busy, every single issue collected is made to be overly grandiose and if everything is larger than life and overly vivid, then that becomes the norm and thus, makes everything kind of boring.

Additionally, there is such a mix of different artistic styles that it becomes jarring as these collections jump from issue to issue every twenty pages or so. Some of the artists had great pencils but many of them illustrated in a style that didn’t feel like Marvel and instead felt like the artists were trying to emulate indie comics from Image and Valiant. Besides, the stuff that was illustrated well, ended up being wrecked by the primitive gradients and crazy colors that looked like a giallo film puked all over a box of Prismacolor markers.

When it comes to the narrative side of this, that’s also a mess.

This suffers from trying to be way more ambitious than it needed to be. The whole story is comprised of about seven or eight different subplots that are and aren’t intertwined. Some of them merge towards the end into the bigger story but some stuff just happens within this new timeline. But the story jumps around so much that it makes the whole thing hard to follow as a singular body of work. This is the same problem I have, right now, with all the new X-Men related titles that are tied to a bigger narrative but don’t feel connected as much as they should. But this is what happens when you have a half dozen different titles and different writers, all of whom want to explore different territory in their own way while being trapped within a common framework.

In fact, the only plot I actually enjoyed was the one that dealt with the characters that aren’t tied to the X-Men.

There was a two issue miniseries called X-Universe, which focused on what other Marvel characters were up to during this event. We check in on this timeline’s version of Gwen Stacy, some of the Avengers, Fantastic Four, Doctor Doom and a few others. I found this more interesting and it showed me that this alternate timeline could provide the right sort of environment for cool and refreshing takes on old characters.

While I should probably feel the same way about all the X-Men related characters and their stories, it is hard to focus on any of them because of how this jumps around so much. When I got to the non-X-Men characters, it felt like a nice break from the X-clusterfuck I was pushing myself through.

Ultimately, I was really disappointed in this. I kept powering through it because I was hoping that all these subplots and characters would unify into something coherent that clicked at the end but that didn’t happen. We eventually get to a resolution but it’s not all that satisfying.

On a side note (and spoiler alert): the way that Magneto kills Apocalypse is pretty f’n badass.

Rating: 5/10
Pairs well with: other big X-Men crossovers of the ’80s through ’00s.

Comic Review: Vampirella: 2018 Halloween Special

Published: October 24th, 2018
Written by: Scott Lobdell, Blake Northcott
Art by: Rapha Lobosco, Anthony Marques

Dynamite Entertainment, 27 Pages

Review:

I recently backed Blake Northcott and Scott Lobdell’s crowdfunded comic book Everglade Angels because I’ve followed Northcott for awhile on Twitter and I’ve been a fan of Lobdell’s work for years. Plus, I live and grew up in the Everglades, so I have some invested interest in the comic’s setting.

But I didn’t realize until this week that they had worked together previously on this Vampirella Halloween Special from last year. So being that it is Halloween week, I figured I’d give it a read.

And since I dig the hell out of the Vampirella character anyway, that was even more incentive to check this out.

So this was a single issue comic but it had two short stories in it. Both were pretty good and amusing and I enjoyed them as shorts.

The first tale has to do with Vampirella taking care of some major baddies on Halloween. She also receives help from some other characters but I don’t want to spoil any of the details.

The second story is more comedic and has Vampirella trying to get back at some trick or treaters that TPed her house. It’s a pretty fast read but it was still pretty entertaining.

Both stories had different artists with very different styles but I enjoyed the look of the book throughout.

Overall, this achieved what it set out to do, which was provided a couple of fun stories themed around Halloween.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: other Vampirella titles from Dynamite, as well as the Harris Comics era.

Comic Review: Red Hood/Arsenal, Vol. 2: Dancing with the Devil’s Daughter

Published: October 18th, 2016
Written by: Scott Lobdell
Art by: Joe Bennett, Javier Fernandez, Dexter Soy

DC Comics, 170 Pages

Review:

While the first volume in this short lived series didn’t blow my socks off, I am a fan of Scott Lobdell’s Red Hood stories. That being said, this one was a step up over the collection before it and this does set up Lobdell’s superb Red Hood and the Outlaws series.

The focus of the plot is the redemption of Duela Dent a.k.a. the Joker’s Daughter. Red Hood and Arsenal both have different opinions on whether or not Duela can change. This leads to the two best friends going their separate ways by the end of the arc.

I thought that this volume did a better job of showing Red Hood and Arsenal’s friendship, what it means to both men and how they are probably better off on their own due to their differences and their life trajectories.

Although this series is broken out into two volumes, it’s probably best to read them together, as the larger story is what’s most important and the volumes are rather short.

The art was pretty damn good. Lobdell has had nothing but solid artists on all of his Red Hood stuff.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: Red Hood and the Outlaws.

Comic Review: Red Hood/Arsenal, Vol. 1: Open for Business

Published: April 5th, 2016
Written by: Scott Lobdell
Art by: Denis Medri, Paolo Pantalena

DC Comics, 141 Pages

Review:

I was a fan of Scott Lobdell’s work on Red Hood and the Outlaws, so I figured I’d go backwards and read his short-lived Red Hood/Arsenal series that takes place just before the formation of Red Hood’s Outlaws team with Artemis and Bizarro.

Also, with the recent death of Arsenal and Red Hood having to deal with it and process it, I wanted to get more context to their friendship.

This was a good read, a pretty energetic story and it does do a lot to show you how special Red Hood and Arsenal’s relationship is. It also channels back to events that effected them before this story. And maybe I’ll have to go back further and read those too.

However, this wasn’t as good as the Red Hood and the Outlaws stuff that followed. While both are written by Lobdell, the more recent (and still ongoing) series has just a bit more depth to it.

This collection is the first of only two in this series and while this one serves to set things up, upon finishing it, it doesn’t feel like there is much to look forward to, as the series seems to present itself as something with more longevity than just one more arc. And maybe that longevity was intended to be the Outlaws series but I know that I’ll probably want more of Red Hood and Arsenal than just this small sample size. Especially, now knowing what Arsenal’s fate will be down the road.

If you like Red Hood stories though, this is probably worth your time. It’s hard to judge it though, as there is one more volume after it and maybe I should have just read both as one body of work.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: Red Hood and the Outlaws.

Film Review: Critters Attack! (2019)

Also known as: Critters 5 (working title)
Release Date: July 13th, 2019 (Fantasia International Film Festival)
Directed by: Bobby Miller
Written by: Scott Lobdell
Based on: Critters by Stephen Herek, Domonic Muir, Don Keith Opper
Music by: Russ Howard III
Cast: Tashiana Washington, Dee Wallace, Jaeden Noel, Jack Fulton, Ava Preston, Leon Clingman, Vash Singh, Steve Blum (voice)

Blue Ribbon Content, New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Television, 89 Minutes

Review:

“Taste my steel, you rat bastards. I have the best blades in the business.” – Chef Loong

So we don’t get any new Critters movies for two and a half decades but in the same year, we get a television show and a movie. Weirdly, the two aren’t related so I’m not sure if they’re both alternative sequels or alternative reboots. Or maybe one is a sequel and one is a reboot… I don’t know.

Does it really matter, though?

At their core, these are just movies about little carnivorous alien creatures that show up in small towns and eat the people, as well as dogs, cats, rats and anything that is meat or junk food.

Like the recent television show, this outing was pretty bad. I guess the main character was okay and it was neat seeing Dee Wallace return but none of that was enough to carry this dud.

The film also introduces us to a “good” Crite, who is trying to help the humans kill her “evil” brethren. I guess she’s sort of like what Gizmo was to the Gremlins.

For the most part, the film looks and feels cheap. I’d say that the alien Crites are still amusing and I much prefer them to be like they are in this film than in the television show, as they were regular conversationalists in that. Also, this isn’t derailed by a bizarre storyline that sees one of its main characters find out that they are some sort of human/Crite hybrid.

Still, this was worse than the show. It wasn’t as entertaining and maybe the show’s batshit craziness is what made it resonate with me a bit more. While that sounds contradictory to my statement about the bonkers addition of the human/Crite hybrid, at least that insanity kept my attention because my baffling bewilderment shifted into overdrive.

Plus, the show had Gilbert Gottfried and the voice of Stephen Merchant, which gives it some extra brownie points when compared to this pretty forgettable flick.

I mean, how do you not make a better film than Critters 3 or 4 in your sleep?

Rating: 3.5/10
Pairs well with: the Critters movies, as well as anything featuring Gremlins, Ghoulies or Munchies.

Comic Review: X-Cutioner’s Song

Published: 1992-1993
Written by: Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza, Peter David
Art by: Brandon Peterson, Andy Kubert, Jae Lee, Greg Capullo

Marvel Comics, 336 Pages

Review:

This was one of my favorite big crossover events when I was really just getting deep into comics. This blew my middle school mind at the time and it had a lot of influence over my creative output in the comic book medium.

I was worried that revisiting this story would be a big disappointment. A lot of the stuff from this era that I reread now, usually lets me down, as my palate is more discriminatory than it was at thirteen years-old.

I’m happy to say that this was still pretty f’n solid!

In fact, I think it is slightly better than X-Tinction Agenda, which I used to place ahead of this one.

What I really liked about it, is that it features three of my absolute favorite villains: Apocalypse, Mister Sinister and Stryfe. They are all well balanced and they aren’t here to come together in an effort to finally take out the X-Men, X-Factor and X-Force (formerly the New Mutants). Each one of these baddies has their own purpose and agenda within the story and it all just comes together in a really cool way that even sees the X-Men have to turn to Apocalypse in order to stop Stryfe’s chaos.

This is the best big story to come after the epic Chris Claremont run on X-Men. But if I’m being honest and this certainly isn’t a dig at the legendary Claremont, whose work I love, X-Cutioner’s Song was really refreshing and it showed that new blood could liven things up. Granted, Peter David didn’t hang around too long, Scott Lobdell and Fabian Nicieza also moved on to other things, but this was a weirdly perfect storm considering all the changes happening on Marvel’s X-books following Claremont’s departure and many of the top creatives leaving for the newly formed Image Comics.

The art is also top notch, but Brandon Peterson, Andy Kubert, Jae Lee and Greg Capullo are all fantastic and three of those men have become somewhat legendary in their own right.

X-Cutioner’s Song is well crafted, well balanced and it should be a primer on how to write massive crossovers featuring dozens of characters all competing for their moment.

Rating: 9.25/10
Pairs well with: previous big X-Men crossover events like X-Tinction Agenda, Muir Island Saga, Inferno and Fall of the Mutants.