Sunday, March 29, 2015

Review of "Return of the Super Pimps"

 





It’s a new week and I have a new review for you readers.  This week I am reviewing a book based purely on the over the top title.  It was suggested to me by my fellow writer for the site Tony.  So here we go….

Return of the Super-Pimps
Written By Richard A. Hamilton
Art By Ulises Carpintero
Released by Dial C For Comics

In the 1970’s the Super-Pimps are the Justice League of “The Hood”.  The Super-Pimps are made up of Blackbeard, the leader with the living locks.  He possesses amazing strength and his hair can be used as extra appendages.  Homeboy,  a bruiser with a connection to the streets.  His powers are similar to Richter from X-Force, but he has more of a link to the health of his streets.  Ghetto Blaster, The wielder of the 8-Track suit.  Ghetto Blaster is the Iron Man of the team, but his suit is made up of speakers that he can control to produce and manipulate sound waves.  Foxy Mama, a former “working girl” with werewolf powers.  She is very similar to Wolfsbane or Feral.  And Sidekick, the youngest member of the group.  Sidekick is a Kung Fu master much like a Shang Chi.  

As the book opens the greatest nemesis of the Super-Pimps Darquefire is using his power of mind control to gain an army so he can rule everything.  But watching on from the shadows is a young boy who knows what is happening needs to stop.  So the boy runs to a phone and dials “P For Pimp” calling the Super-Pimps into action.  After a hard fought battle with Darquefire the pimps are standing in victory, but there was a price.  Sidekick attacked Darqufire but when he did so he struck the amulet that gives him the mind control powers.  The resulting explosion killed both Sidekick and Darquefire.  Or did it?

Flash forward 30 years and the Super-Pimps have disbanded after the death of their young member.  And the boy who called in the team in the 70’s is now a police officer working the beat in the Hood.  The boy now Officer Maple is called to a crime scene where a former informant for the Pimps back in the day is dead.  And upon a closer look it appears that Darquefire may have beaten death and returned.  The clues lead Maple to track down the Pimps.  

Maple first tracks down Blackbeard, or Marcus as he goes by, now a single father of two struggling to get by and supply for his family.  When approached by Maple, Marcus tries to deny who he is and wants nothing to do with the officer.  He is still haunted by the fact that he couldn’t save Sidekick and wants just to forget the whole thing.  But the other members decide they have been idle long enough.  And when they return to the crime scene they find Marcus already there.  The team is finally reunited and ready to get back into action.

They come back together, but the team isn’t what they once were.  They are still battling with ghosts from their pasts.  And Darquefire is planning the ultimate coup that would leave him with control over most of the United States.   Of course there are bumps as always, but Super-Pimps manage to get into the fight, donning new costumes, and once again thwart Darquefire.

This book reads like a seventies  blaxploitation movie.  Or at least a spoof on them.  All the way down to the names of the villains in the universe the book puts together.  My favorite being a giant albino gorilla wearing a shirt and tie named Honkey Kong.  However there are moments where the story goes pretty close to the edge of being comfortable.  But those moments don’t really hurt in the long run.  

The writing is solid for the most part making the characters very relatable and compelling.  And not to mention rather fun.  But the art is a little rough for most of the series.  The panel layouts are really easy to follow, but the art was just rough.  But there are times where it made the book feel more like the 70’s grindhouse story it was going for.

Rating: 4 out of 5
It was funny, emotional, and yes even uncomfortable.  And it was better for it.  I do suggest people check it out if they get the chance.  I would love to hear what other people get out of this series.

Thank you for reading my review.  If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions of other books to read please leave them in the comments section.  And never forget….. Keep reading comics fans.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Review of Sheltered issues #1-10





This weeks I have an interesting book that I just started hearing about last week when it came to an end.  When I heard the review for the final issue on iFanboy’s pick of the week podcast, it immediately caught my attention.  So while I was in my local comic shop this week I grabbed the first two trades of the book.

Sheltered #1-10
Written by Ed Brisson and Johnnie Christmas
Art by Johnnie Christmas
Released by Image Comics


Sheltered is the story of Safe Haven.  An off the grid community of doomsday preppers who are working together to stock up on everything they will need in case of the end of the world or the government turns on the citizens of the United States.  The problem is that one of the kids in the community puts together that the super volcano in Yellowstone National Park is about to erupt and the community only has enough supplies built up for a smaller group of people to survive for three years.  The discovery leads the children to make a move and kill their parents under the command of Lucas, the older kid who is predicting the imminent eruption.

But the story centers on Victoria.  A new comer to Safe Haven who is away from the community with her best friend when Lucas leads the rest of the kids to make their move on the parents.  But she is called back by the sounds of gunfire on the community.  And when she returns she finds her father being dragged to a burning pile.  This leads to Victoria and her friend Hailey trying to figure out what happened to the parents, and why it happened.

But the real strength of the series is the inevitable crumbling of the community.  They are only kids, and the oldest of them is maybe in his mid teens.  So the longer the kids are on their own without the adults the more they revert to being like kids left home alone with a house full of food they aren’t supposed to eat and movies they aren’t supposed to watch.  It really starts to take on a Lord of the Flies feel.  Right down to the fact that they start to make kid decisions in adult situations which has the expected result.  

Brisson and Christmas have put together a great series.  Even though the inevitable always seems to happen.  They make it interesting to see how it is going to get there.  And the art of Christmas is great at conveying the emotion of a scene.  There are moments where I had to do a double take to figure out which characters were on panel together, but it wasn’t very often.  And it usually occurred in scenes at night, where the panel was designed to be darker.

Rating:  4 Out Of 5

I am really impressed with this series, and look forward to getting a hold of the last trade when it comes out.  It really stands out in the current comic landscape.

Thank you for reading my review.  If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions please leave them in the comment section.  And as always.  Keep reading comics fans…...

Monday, March 16, 2015

Review of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Bill and Ted's Most Triumphant Return and Howard The Duck

Welcome back readers.  This week I am going to take a break from my Flash reviews to focus on some newer books I checked out this week.  I have three books to talk about, one that has been out for a couple months now.  And the other two just came out this week.  So here we go….













The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 & 2
Written By Ryan North
Art By Erica Henderson
Released by Marvel Comics

The rough idea of this series is that Squirrel Girl decides it’s time to leave her “rent free upstairs apartment”(the attic of Avengers Mansion) and go to college.  So she starts using the alter ego name of Doreen Green, packs her stuff.  And with her pet squirrel Tippy-Toe, heads out into the world.  The real problem is that Dorren is pretty socially awkward.  And that makes for some really funny moments as she tries to live a normal life and keep her Squirrel Girl identity a secret.  

This book really is a lot of fun.   It doesn’t really take itself too seriously, and often relishes in the fact that Squirrel Girl is a pretty laughable gimmick.  Whenever she is interacting with another college Student.  Whether it be her roommate who is overly angry most of the time, or Tomas who she is “totally crushing on”.  Doreen often makes conversations very awkward and hilarious for the reader.  And as I have already stated, she isn’t great at keeping her secret identity.

I don’t know a whole lot about the character of Squirrel Girl so I can’t speak to how accurate the voice of the character is.  But I love that North makes her feel like a kid that was homeschooled up through High School and finally let out into the world for college.  As for the art, Henderson really shines.  Her style has a fun and quirky feel that only serves to make the book better.  

Rating: 4 Out of 5
I am not sure if it is the promise of a Galactus vs. Iron Squirrel (That’s right she has her own Iron Man suit!!!) or just the book in general, but I really want to see where this book goes from here.


Bill and Ted’s Most Triumphant Return
Written By Brian Lynch and Ryan North
Art by Jerry Gaylord
Released by BOOM! Studios

I loved the Bill and Ted movies when they first came out.  So I was pretty interested when I saw this issue in my local comic shop I grabbed it with very little hesitation.  The issue begins directly after the end of Bogus Journey.  And after Wyld Stallyns perform their song the audience wants an encore, but the problem is Bill and Ted only wrote the one song.  So they shave their outrageous facial hair and get to work on writing their next song.  But writer’s block is in full effect.  

After several attempts that bear no fruit, and a visit from a group of students from the future on a field trip to visit the home of the saviors.  The duo decide to use a phone booth to make a trip to the future to see what their second song was.  

This book reads like a Saturday morning cartoon from the eighties, and looks like one too.  I wish there were more to the issue, but what it did contain was a fun trip down memory lane.  Lynch has a real talent for nailing down the voices and mannerisms of Alex Winters and Keanu Reeves.  In fact it is almost impossible to read this book without hearing their voices talking for the characters.  

Ratings: 4 out of 5
I will probably grab the trade of this when it is all wrapped up, but with all of the other books I am currently getting I can’t afford to pick this one up as the issues come out.


Howard the Duck #1
Written by Chip Zdarsky
Art by Joe Quinones
Released by Marvel Comics

Howard is now a private detective with an office across from Jennifer Walters a.k.a She-Hulk.  Upon returning to his office from a night in the slammer he has a client wanting him to track down a family necklace that was stolen by Black Cat.  Howard takes the job and teams up with a fellow malcontent that he was in prison with.  After a preparation montage complete with theme song the two head off to the home of Felicia Hardy in an attempt to reclaim the necklace.  

However their meeting with Felicia is interrupted by an intergalactic bounty hunter working for the Collector who wants to add Howard to his museum.  and as the issue comes to a close there is a promise of a Marvel animal character team up not to be missed.

Zdarsky in Quinones really come together to make a great book here.  There are several little easter eggs hidden within the book that make multiple readings fun.  And there is even a joke about the Howard the Duck movie that makes it part of continuity in a way.  

Rating: 5 out of 5

I will be grabbing this one from now on.  It has the sense of humor that speaks directly to me and it doesn’t seem like it will be bogged down by any events coming up in the future.

Thanks for reading my reviews.  If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions feel free to leave them in the comments section.  and as always…  Keep reading comic fans.



Monday, March 9, 2015

Review: Spider-Woman #5



Spider-Woman #5
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Javier Rodriguez
Publisher: Marvel Comics

I reviewed the first issue of this series when it was released.  It can be read here.  To review my thoughts of that issue, I felt there were two things very wrong with it.  First, it launched in the middle of a crossover event.  That really does a disservice to a title.  Instead of being able to establish its own voice and direction, you’re forced to tell someone else’s story—hardly an ideal way to launch a series.  And second, the series launched with art by Greg Land and I absolutely loathe him, as an artist.  I’m very please to tell you, both of those problems are now in the past and this issue is everything that the first issue should have been.

This issue gives us a new direction and a new costume for Jessica Drew.  She’s sick of being an agent, whether it be S.H.I.E.L.D., S.W.O.R.D, or the Avengers.  She wants to be a superhero that’s in control of her own destiny and not beholden to anyone else.  In this story, a bad night of crime fighting lands her in jail.  When she gets released, she meets up with Daily Bugle reporter, Ben Ulrich, who wants Jessica (who was, at one time, a private detective) to help him on a story he’s working on.  Turns out, family members of super villains are disappearing and Ulrich wants to know why.  Jessica is initially against such a partnership, but a chance run-in with a supervillain, who’s only committing a crime because “they” will kill his daughter if he doesn’t comply, changes her mind.  Who’s “they”?  Was that encounter really completely chance?  We’ll find out in the coming issues!

As I stated before, this issue was everything the first issue should have been.  Hopeless is a proven talent with a wonderful track record behind him with such titles as Avengers Arena and Avengers Undercover, both titles I’d highly recommend.  I expect great things from him on this title, now that the shackles of a crossover event are off.

Getting an artist like Javier Rodriguez on this book was a real coup.  He has a very clean, almost pop art style.  His style is quite similar to his fellow artists on Mark Waid’s Daredevil--Marcos Martin and Paolo Rivera.  In addition to his excellent work on that series, I’ve seen his work previously on Amazing Spider-Man and he handled art duties on the fantastic Batgirl: Year One.  To say that I feel he’s a massive upgrade over Greg Land would be an understatement!

The verdict:  The new direction and art team have me really excited for this book, so much more than at its launch.  Both creators have proven themselves in the past to be quite capable and shouldn’t disappoint us in the slightest.  Highly recommended.

The score: 4 out of 5 stars.  

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Review of Mark Waid's Flash Week 2- Issues #71-79

Week 2 of my journey into the world of Wally West by Mark Waid.  This week I didn’t get as many issues read due to a busy schedule, but What I did read was top notch.

The Flash Vol. 2 #71-79
Written By Mark Waid
Art By Greg Larocque


#71-72
The main story to this arc is that Wally must protect Moe Migliani, a fast talking jailhouse lawyer who got a lot of fellow cellmates out on technicalities.  Moe needs protection from another fellow prisoner who Moe couldn’t get out.  The criminal in question now has possession of Dr. Alchemy’s Philosophers stone.  A weapon that allows the wielder to change the elements in objects.  This new villain calls himself The Alchemist.  The real problem is that Moe is hiding things from Wally, like the real reason the Alchemist is after him.  

The real story in this arc to me was the side story about the relationship between Wally and Linda.  Linda is tired of not knowing one way or the other where she stands with Wally so she is about to leave for a job in another city.  But she gives Wally until 2 o’clock to give her a good reason not to leave.  Of course even the fastest man alive can’t be everywhere at once.  So Wally is trying to solve the mystery of why the Alchemist wants Moe so that he can be at the train station to stop Linda.

These were two pretty fun issues that really did a good job of highlighting Wally as both the hero and the man.  And most of all the battle within him to be both.


#73-79
These issues make up one hell of a story.  While reading these seven issues I went through a large range of emotions right along with Wally.  What starts as a simple one and done Christmas issue that featured Wally and Linda celebrating the holidays with Jay Garrick and his family.  Turned a great character defining story for Wally West.

After spending sometime running around  to let off some energy, Wally and Jay return home to sit down and eat christmas dinner with their loved ones.  But they get a real shock when Barry Allen shows up at the door alive and well.  Barry claims that he was brought back by the battle between Wally and the Alchemist.  And everyone is is so excited nobody questions his story except Wally.   Because if Barry is alive then where does that leave Wally?  Do the twin cities really need three Flashes?  But after a visit from Hal Jordan that confirms that Barry is telling the truth and a visit to Iris’s grave, Wally’s fears are put to rest.  

But the more time Wally spends alongside Barry the more he starts to notice some irregularities in him.  And it isn’t long before Barry starts acting really strange.  Like feeling like the key to his return is linked to a dark alley in the middle of the city.  

After a run in with a new group of criminals calling themselves The Combine where Wally gets pretty injured and Barry loses it, but not because he believes that Wally is dead.  But because the criminal referred to Wally as the Flash.  This one event leads to Everyone in Barry’s life questioning what is happening to their friend.  But the final straw for Wally is when Barry leaves him to die in one of the Combine’s traps.  

With Wally “dead” and Barry destroying the city for forgetting him, Jay recruits Max Mercury and Johny Quick to help takedown Barry.  But Wally starts to investigate the alley that Barry seemed drawn to.  While looking around Wally finds a book that answers all of the questions.  The book is revealed to be biography of Barry Allen that was owned by Eobard Thrawne.  Also known as Professor Zoom or Reverse-Flash.  

This revelation brings everything into focus.  Somehow Thrawne ended up in the past thinking he was Barry Allen.  So Wally reveals to the rest of the world that he isn’t dead and he lures Thrawne to the Flash museum so that he can give him the ring that contains the costume for Reverse-Flash.  Once again facing the fact that his hero is dead, Wally finally decides to step out of Barry’s shadow And reaches his full potential as the Flash.

I really enjoyed what this arc did for the Wally West character.  It really showed that once he was willing to accept it, Wally could be as good if not better than Barry.

Thanks for reading my review.  If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions please leave them in the comments section.  And as always…. Keep reading comics fans.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Review: Ant-Man #1 and 2




Ant-Man
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Ramon Rosanas
Publisher: Marvel Comics

After talking with a few of my comic book reading friends, I've learned that the character of Ant-Man can be extremely polarizing.  Some really like the character and some really hate him.  But it can be more nuanced than that.  First, you have to know which Ant-Man you’re talking about.  There have been three men to carry the mantle, and all three have their shortcomings.

This volume of Ant-Man follows the second Ant-Man, Scott Lang.  I find Lang to be quite likeable.  I think my first exposure to him was in Brian Michael Bendis’ excellent series, Alias.  In that series, he was the boyfriend of the series’ protagonist, Jessica Jones, for a short time.  My next experience with him, and where I really began to like the character, was in the second volume of FF.  He was brought in to lead the replacement Fantastic Four that were asked to stand in for the original team in case something happened to them while they went on vacation through time (and, of course, something did happen).  In this series, he was really fleshed out as a character.  You see a man that is in charge of some exceptional children and is scared senseless to fail them because he still is harboring a massive amount of guilt over the death of his daughter, Cassie Lang (the Young Avenger’s Stature).  As the series concludes, we learn from The Watcher that the Lang bloodline just might be the perfect match with Pym Particles, the source of all the particle user’s ability to change their size.  

Between the conclusion of FF and the beginning of this series, there was an excellent mini-series, Avengers: Children’s Crusade.  There were some interesting events and revelations in that series and among them, the resurrection of Cassie.  The crux of this new series has us following Scott Lang and his attempts at trying to be the best father he can be for his daughter and to be a better man, in general.

The writing, in these first two issues, has been sharp and witty.  I wouldn’t expect anything less from the likes of Nick Spencer.  This series begins just as his previous series, Superior Foes of Spider-Man, reaches its end and that series was a clinic in sharp and witty writing.  His Lang is a flawed, but quite likeable man.  He’s a man that feels guilt over his previous life as a thief and he feels that he’s not living up to his potential as a father.  Cassie, on the other hand, loves her father so much and has all the faith and patience in the world that he’ll turn it all around.  Spencer’s dialog feels very believable.  You truly believe that Scott is a caring man wrestling with his insecurities and Cassie’s voice rings true as a girl that’s probably smarter than either of her parents care to admit.

Now, on to the art of Ramon Rosanas.  This book looks wonderful.  Much like Spencer’s Superior Foes collaborator, Steve Leiber, Rosanas has a very clean art style and shows a great deal of skill at panel-by-panel storytelling.  Anyone that’s read my reviews for any length of time knows that these are two things that I value most when evaluating an artist’s work.  I like what he’s doing and hope to see him on this book for a long time to come.

The verdict:  I like what I’m seeing so far.  This book has potential and it’s coming out of the gate very strong.  Spencer is a proven talent and Rosanas looks like he may be an excellent choice for this title.  I’m eagerly looking forward to the next issue and beyond.

The score: 4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Review of Mark Waid's The Flash week 1- Issues #62-70

This week I am starting a special review series that will probably take me a while to finish.  I have decided to read the Mark Waid run on the Flash and review what I read over the week.  I will break down the issues as I read them and at the end I will do a review of the run as a whole.


The Flash Vol. 2 #62-70
Written by Mark Waid
Art by Greg La Roqou #62-65, 67-70
Michael Collins #66
released in 1992 by DC Comics







#62-65:
The first four issues of Mark Waid’s run on the Flash covers the story of how Wally West became the Flash in a storyline called “Born to Run”.  But it doesn’t just show his backstory only, it frames it with Wally in present day going through his Aunt Iris’ stuff and finding old scrapbooks for Barry Allen as the Flash and Wally as Kid Flash.  


Waid really makes Wally’s story interesting.  Not just introducing the reader to Wally West and his hero/mentor Barry Allen, but really breaking down who Wally is at that age and why he is who he is.  A lot of that has to do with his Aunt Iris, who is the only person that Wally feels understands him.  Wally comes from a borderline abusive family.  Not really being physically beaten, but it does come off as being a emotionally and maybe even verbally abusive household.  


The only part of Wally’s origin that really bothers me is that they have him get his powers in the exact same way that Barry got his.  I felt that really cheapened the character of Wally at first.  But as the story evolves Waid manages to correct that slight misstep by having the powers actually having a large negative effect on Wally’s younger body.  This leads to Wally having to stop using his powers, because the use of the powers could kill him.  But after Wally returns home to his parents at the end of the summer he and his father are caught in the path of a tornado and his father is pinned under a fallen tree, after Wally runs away from home in a total stupid kid throwing a temper tantrum moment.  This forces Wally to make the decision of they both die, or Wally could use his speed to stop the tornado and save his father, but dieing in the process.  I think we all know that Wally doesn’t die of course, but the moment still has a great dramatic feel, and by Wally really pushing himself to stop the tornado he breaks through the “ceiling” of his powers in his young body and reaches his full potential.


#66
Issue #66 is a one off issue with the guest artist Michael Collins.  In this issue Barry is on a cruise with a female friend that is hijacked by a pod of whales and taken to a secluded island where the Aquaman villain the Marine Marauder is trying to dig up some ancient oceanic artifact that would allow her to control the seven seas themselves.  I have never even heard of the Marine Marauder before, and thats probably for the best.  She is a mohawked villain with the power to control sea life.  And her powers apparently even have the ability to control Aquaman himself.  


So when Wally comes to, he finds that all of the other passengers are being forced to help move rocks from the entrance of a cave said to contain the crown.  The Marine Marauder makes Flash a deal.  If he helps her move the rocks and find the crown she will release all of the people she has been enslaving to help her.  Of course Wally agrees and begins to help her.  And with his speed it isn’t long before Aquaman and the Flash find a large ornate antechamber containing a single chest inside.  but when Flash opens the chest Aquaman steals the crown and places it on his own head, revealing that it wasn’t the Marauder’s powers that he was under the influence of but the original owner of the crown the storm god Enlil.  And by placing the crown on his head Aquaman is fully possessed by the ancient Babylonian god.


After quite the battle Flash is able to knock the crown off the head of Aquaman and restore his friend to normal.  But as Wally saved him the god was bringing in tsunami’s from all angles that would completely drown the entire island.  Using his speed force Wally is able to hide all of the people inside the cave and cover the entrance with stones before the waves hit.  Everyone except the Marauder who, in her greed stayed outside to save the crown so she could rule the seas.


It was a fun little one off issue with a great spoof cover promoting “The Race Nobody Was Asking For” between The Flash and Aquaman.  It probably has no larger bearing on the series as a whole.  But it was still a fun one shot story that I wish more writers would embrace in the current comic landscape every now and then.



#67-68


These two issues feature the villain Abra Kadabra returning from the dead after years of being “dead”.  Abra is a villain from the far future that because of his advanced tech he is believed to be a really powerful magician.  Abra Kadabra attacks a charity event that Flash is making an appearance at because there is a person using his name. But before the battle gets too involved a mysterious woman from Abra’s true time comes to take him back.  In the scuffle to return him to his proper time Flash gets sent to the future too.  


When they get to the future it is revealed that Abra Kadabra was exiled to the past where he could be in a time where there were more people like him to be with.  But once they sent him back his followers started to revolt against the government even more.  So they bring Abra back to his proper time in an attempt to calm his followers.  Their plan is to kill him so that his death will convince the others that they can’t win.


The real problem with this to Wally is that the future is controlled by a series of computers that control every aspect of the future civilizations lives.  From their sleep time to the amount of time they are allowed to sleep.  But what does a machine know about what humans need.  So Wally, recognizing the irony helps Abra Kadabra escape his execution and takedown the machines running everything.  Then he tricks one of the people into sending Abra back to the past and hitches a ride with him.


Once back in his proper time Wally knocks out Abra Kadabra and takes all of his tech, leaving him powerless and insane.



#69-70


These two issues are a little more interesting to review.  They are two installments in a four issue crossover with Green Lantern.  The two heroes team up to take on Gorilla Grodd and Hector Hammond.  But I didn’t read the Green Lantern issues to the crossover.  But I do know that your get to see cromagnun Green Lantern and Wally West with a head so big he can’t even run.  These issues were the most forgettable of the ones I have read so far.  


Thanks for reading my review.  Stay tuned next week for my continued journey through the world of Mark Waid’s run of the Flash.  and as always.  Keep reading comics fans...