Comic Book Reviews 10-28-15

Review Scale:

The mythical A+: Classic comic book material. Belongs next to your copy of The Notebook and The Joy of Cooking.

A: Would definitely recommend to all comic book readers. Even more so to fans of the genre or characters

B: Enjoyable read. Fans of the genre or characters will especially like.

C: Non-essential read. Can be enjoyable for fans of the genre or characters, but likely for only one or two events in the books.

D: Unenjoyable book. Read at your own risk. Might find satisfaction if major flaws are overlooked.

F: Please don’t buy this book. Donate your money to a local comic book writer’s workshop instead to inspire future generations to write something better than this trash.

Pick of the Week:

rumble 8 POTWRumble #8 – A
Writers: John Arcudi, James Harren
Artist: Dave Stewart

Things have calmed down since the first appearance of Rathraq but on Halloween Night he’s back, sword swinging. Bobby seems like he might have a normal life, but we all knew that wouldn’t last. In this issue he’s Good Guy Bobby helping two kids find their mom. I really like how Del has become his own character, always brave although maybe not the smartest guy. Of course Bobby isn’t going to go back to a normal life and it’s Halloween so why wouldn’t a new adventure start that night? This issue was a lot like the very first one. By that I mean it seems like a normal day and Rathraq’s appearance is very sudden. If you haven’t read the story previously you could actually jump in now without too much of a problem. This is a great book for Halloween. – Scott

Other Reviews: 

BOOM! Studios:

Adventure Time 2015 Spooktacular – A
Writer & Artist: Hanna K.

The stories about Marceline and Simon way back in time just following the Mushroom War are some of the most somber and gratifying. I think it was actually a Simon/Marceline flashback in the cartoon that keyed me into Adventure Time’s zany dynamic. In the Spooktacular, Marceline’s mostly grown up wandering the wasteland with her dog after Simon has gone full Ice King and abandoned them. This story doesn’t do much to clear up any of the mythology’s (large) dark and unknown spaces – we still don’t understand how Marceline got the way she is or where she is – but it’s a pretty somber and intimate look at the world post-Mushroom War. Marceline treks the waste and finds a settlement of humans living in fear of vampires. She goes hunting and vows to outlive all of them. So Marcy’s for sure not a vampire. I love the art in these Adventure Time comics. It bends my brain a little bit that a cartoon based on such a simple art style could be the progenitor of such lush and complex themes and representations. – Montgomery

Dark Horse Comics:

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1953-The Phantom Hand & the Kelpie #1 A
Writer: Mike Mignola
Artist: Ben Stenbeck

Much like the Adventure Time Spooktacular, B.P.R.D. and Hellboy side stories are almost always gratifying; they might not progress the mythology or central story, but they give the world real weight. Of the two stories here, “The Phantom Hand” is definitely the superior. In 1953, Hellboy and his adopted father, Trevor Brutenholm, along with a local occultist travel to London to investigate reports of a murderous ghostly hand. They find the hand and discover it’s the hand of a child murderer who claims the devil made him do it. Turns out he wasn’t lying; his hand was possessed by a large and powerful demon. Hellboy engages in fisticuffs and manages to beat him back with a surprising object. The real hook of the story, however, is when Trevor remarks on Hellboy’s power and potential, and how he seems to have natural ability, where others fail, to eliminate these threats and literally change the atmosphere. It’s actually quite moving. – Montgomery

DC/Vertigo Comics:

Justice League 3001 #5 – B+
Writer: J.M. DeMatteis, Keith Giffen
Artist: Howard Porter

I still love this book. This particular issue felt more like a holding pattern than it did progress, but it was a marked improvement over the last issue. One of the Starro horde now lives with Green Lantern in order to learn about and perhaps to come to accept the League. Green Lantern is having weird lapses in memory that just may be her hose DNA trying to crawl back to the surface of memory. Meanwhile, Batman and Supergirl (god Supergirl is so badass in this book) are hunting an impostor Batman on the prison world, and Lois Lane’s robot slips to Superman about her plan. I guess a lot of story did get progressed. It’s just that this issue is busy setting so much stuff up that it felt like no one thing in particular happened to make this issue memorable. But that impostor Batman? Stylish. – Montgomery

Prez #5 – B
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Ben Caldwell

What would happen if America apologized for all of our crimes? Well, it turns out, that is a tough question to answer. Either way, it made for a pretty interesting story line. But what was best about this month’s Prez was that War Beast escaped Guantanamo Bay, and then headed to a church group. It was so hilarious I spit out my coffee. Make sure to scroll for our funniest panels to catch the zinger of all from this issue. – Adrian

Justice League Darkseid Wars: Batman #1 – B-
Writer: Peter Tomasi
Artist: Fernando Pasarin

First of all, let me just say that Batman looks utterly ridiculous rolling around Gotham in a giant Tron chair. The gist of this issue is that Batman is now going through Gotham with his all-knowing super chair and stopping all the crime before it happens – and he’s being kind of a dick about it. It’s all very reminiscent of Superman/Batman #53 where the two switch powers. It’s kinda corny, especially when “it gets personal.” However, the issue ends on an exciting note when Chair Batman is looking to take on The Joker again. I’m curious what kind of continuity is taking effect in Justice League since it clearly isn’t in line with Batman. – Sherif

We Are Robin #5 – B-
Writer: Lee Bermejo
Artist: Jorge Corona
This book is still really interesting to me, but this issue was a little blasé. We did find out more about Izzy and her background. The crew was then sent to find out more about the nest. There are so many unanswered questions still. I do think this was a bit of a filler issue, but I’m okay with that. There is enough mystery here to keep me going. This is one of the best DC book out right now! – Adrian

Batgirl #45 – C
Writers: Cameron Stewart, Brendan Fletcher
Artist: Babs Tarr
Colorist: Serge Lapointe

The wedding is finally upon us, and as always, Barbara finds herself pulled away at the last moment. Dick Grayson makes an impromptu appearance for… seemingly no reason at all other than to bug her. Everybody loved Grayson before the elaborate death faking incident, but now he just seems to be hanging around town like the cool guy from high school who can’t move on. For Babs, though, there is a huge growth moment for her where she pretty much tells Dick that she’s moved on and that he shouldn’t hold her back anymore. It’s quaint, but there isn’t much else to lean on as far as the book goes. – Sherif

Art Opts #1 – C
Writer: Shaun Simon
Artist: Mike Allred

So… art is alive. There’s a secret organization that helps paintings/art wondering around the streets. There’s a man with an artsy squiggly hand and shadows that are alive that can rip off arms. A masked vigilante whose mere presences makes people sick and helps works of art in the whiteness protection system and some sort of evil trying to destroy art. Yup, that’s pretty much everything going on in this comic. I think it poses an interesting exploration into the whole concept of life imitating art/art imitating life sort of kit and caboodle. It’s a very strange and disjointed narrative that’s aim is more philosophy than story, but interesting none-the-less. I’m not sure if it’s something that I’ll be able to keep up with but it has my attention for now. – Jené

Second Opinion (D): While the art was crisp (and it better have been, it’s a book about art), the dialogue was often cheesy. It was almost as if the characters weren’t really supposed to have dialogue, but should have been thinking something to themselves. Instead, it came off as trite. And none of the characters were likable, so that didn’t help either. – Adrian

IDW Publishing:

Transformers Redemption #1 – A
Writer: John Barber
Artist: Livio Ramondelli

I think the this month’s theme for me might be “side stories.” I feel like almost every book I’ve reviewed thus far has been a side story. In Redemption, the four remaining Dinobots struggle for purpose in the wake of armistice and their missing leader, Grimlock (I think we saw him once maybe 30 issues ago, suffering from amnesia and discovered by the hardcore Decepticon group? But not since?), and struggling to keep Slug’s restlessness and rage from pulling them down. Sludge is the triceratops in case you didn’t know (which you almost certainly didn’t). Believing their purpose is to do the dirty stuff for the good guys, they take a shadowy mission from a couple Camiens and one of Starscream’s secret police. It’s a pretty cool story with some interesting twists and very cool noir like narration that doesn’t feel canned like a lot of superhero narration. By the end of the book, the Dinobots end up adding a member to their group (but not who you think). Much like the Hellboy side stories, I love when the writers of the TF books slow things down to really focus on a neglected group or group and imbue them with character. But I can’t help but wonder when Grimlock’s coming back. – Montgomery

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #51 – C
Writers: Tom Waltz, Bobby Curnow, Kevin Eastman
Artist: Ken Garing

The all-new saga of TMNT begins after a magnanimous ending to issue #50 left Splinter “honor-bound” to The Foot. After one issue, I am not impressed. The new art from Ken Garing is actually more on par with the original gritty Eastman work, but it doesn’t look as polished and appropriate as Santolouco’s pencils did. Plus, Raphael is just about as into this Foot thing as I am, and Mikey on his own is a sad sight. The reign of The Foot may be over before it begins, and there are several new players about to create waves. It’ll be interesting to see what happens from here, but this issue gets a big “meh” from me. – Sherif

Second Opinion (A-)This issue may just not be up to par for me because of the insanity that was issue #50 but it still was my favorite of the week. I can not wait to see where Michelangelo’s story arc here begins to go!

Image Comics:

ODY-C #8 – A
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Christian Ward

I can’t believe this is only issue 8. I feel like I’ve been reading this series since I was in high school, or something. And, finally, on the 8th issue, I’ve discovered the secret to reading the comic, and it’s the same advice one of my favorite professors gave me: read it out loud. I read it out loud, and for the first time in months, I feel like I have a grip on the story. Now that we’re in the Arabian Nights arc (of which I know nothing, so I’m picking up almost none of the references), this one follows two brothers confined to a kingdom of their making. Their lovers leave and get involved with each other, so the brothers murder everyone. It was nice to feel like I had any sense of what was going on. And Christian Ward continues to deliver the best visuals in current comics. I don’t want to spoil what’s happening in this picture, but that’s an entire country built out of the bones of a single person. So, y’know… hobbies? I guess? – Montgomery

Black Magick #1—B
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Nicola Scott
Colorist: Chiara Arena

As first issues are concerned, I’m extremely excited about this series. It’s the first time in forever that a witch has been painted in a light that’s not some evil spawn of the devil. Anything that connects to the Salam Witch Trails has my attention. I guess having an ancestor hang for witchcraft will do that to a woman. So far the story is mystical yet realistic and pulls you in right away. At first I thought it might be something akin to Witchblade. It’s not. It’s way better than then that. And the art is fracking spectacular. Breathtaking even. The sort of noir art style is amazing. And the one color page that highlights Rowen’s powers shows the power that the artist is leaning to the narrative. All in all I’m really excited to continue reading this comic book. – Jené

Marvel/Icon Comics:

Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 – B+
Writer: Frank J. Barbiere
Artist: Brent Schoonover

I have to be honest and say I have no idea what I just read here and how it fits together, but despite that fact I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. Since the Howling Commando’s made of monsters appeared in the Secret Wars Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos series, I was hoping we would get some variation of that team. As a monster fan , and a big fan of the character Man-Thing, this series seemed right up my alley and I have to say, despite being majorly confused at how things got to where they are in this issue I found it to be everything I wanted from this series within this first issue even with the robotic Dum Dum Dugan. I have complete faith in Frank J Barbiere’s writing after this issue and expect much more explanation as the series goes on. Brent Schoonover does a spectacular job on the art mixing all these different monsters together from the incredibly bad ass  Hit-Monkey to the rather dumb Zombie Jasper Sitwell., Definitely a great series to sart so close to Halloween! – Jacob

The New Avengers #2 – B+
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Gerardo Sandoval

I missed the first issue of this, which is a shame because the first issue might have been an A+. This issue was still pretty good though. The only minus (which seems pretty significant, hence the drop of a whole letter grade) is that the crystal headed guys are actually NBD if you just scream right. Way to deflate all the tension. Also, how does Squirrel Girl beat up a sub-hulk exactly? At any rate, the Avengers post-Secret Wars, as I’ve commented elsewhere, has a very Grant Morrison feel. I kind of wish maybe Grant Morrison would be allowed to do for Marvel what he does for DC, like, twice a week. Those Lie Minus crystal headed guys seem ripped right out of Doom Patrol. And the concept of Life Minus seems ripped right out of Kirby’s Fourth World and the bulk of Morrison’s DC work, which centers around the anti-life equation and universal conquest. But the Ultimate universe Reed, called the Maker, who is totally bonkers, is the guy behind it all. I’m a little exasperated that we’re only two issues into the all new all different Marvel universe, and Maker is already talking about other universes. What was the point of the last year, Marvel? What? Was? The? Point? Anyways, the demon he conjures is pretty badass, and Morrison as anything that’s Morrisoned a Morrison. – Montgomery

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 – B+
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Erica Henderson
I was worried this book might lose some of its allure since it is the second reboot in only a year. I was proven wrong, and I love when that happens! The new series starts in Doreen’s sophomore year at Empire State. She and Nancy have a place together, and the whole team seems closer than ever. There are some allusions to Doreen’s place in the New Avengers, and there are lots of good jokes surrounding that. Doreen’s number one fan came to town, a.k.a. her mom. There was a lot of play with just how embarrassing but also awesome moms can be. I thought the “bad guy” was a little silly, but I am still happy that Squirrel Girl is around. – Adrian

Chewbacca #2 – B
Gerry Duggan
Artist: Phil Noto

The second issue into Chewbacca’s adventure without his cohort in smuggling Han Solo brings him to the point where he is helping a young girl named Zarro free her friends and family from the evil gangster Jaum. This issue focuses on them basically getting to where they need to be and starting their plan, but it ends at a place where we don’t know if anyone survived. Gerry Dugan does a good job writing, especially for Chewbacca seeing as all he says is, “Hraa, Rawrrrrr!!” and similar manuerisms. You definitely get the point across by the great art of Phil Noto as well making sure Chewies expression comes across very clear and we know what he is thinking simply by the illustration. Duggan of course has the supporting cast help out with the emotions and plot but overall this series seems to just be getting its footing and the end of this issue leaves us eagerly awaiting the third issue. – Jacob

Deadpool vs. Thanos #4 – B
Tim Seeley
Artist: Elmo Bondoc

The final issue in this series finally brings us the versus in Deadpool vs Thanos and boy is it an insane battle. After Deadpool and Thanos finally find out where Death is they along with Black Talon head straight to her location to find she is prisoner of Eternity because of the chaos she has caused in, well, all of eternity. Eternity battles Deadpool and Thanos and ends up actually killing them but Death brings them back as the undead to battle Eternity but Thanos gets a little out of control and Deadpool has to try and take him out before he actually destroys everything by killing Eternity. The story ends well and we see a couple epic battles, but overall the series was a little disappointing in that the journey to the good end was a bit unneeded. That is not saying it isn’t an enjoyable ride, but the series could have had a bit more substance to it and a little less mindless journeying. I do have to say Tim Seeley’s writing is enjoyable the whole time, despite some of it feeling filler material and Elmo Bondoc’s art is what really carried me through the series. – Jacob

Funniest Panels:

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Panels with the Most Awesomeness:

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That about wraps it up for our reviews this week! Look for next week’s previews coming soon. Any comic books you didn’t see reviewed that you want reviewed? Any grades you didn’t agree on? Let us know in the comments!

All images taken from ComiXology app and the credit for them goes to the respective publishers; thanks to all the publishers for putting out great books.