Deathstroke/Yogi Bear #1
DC Comics Writer Frank Tieri, Artist Mark Texeira, Colorist Jeromy Cox, Letterer Wes Abbott, Secret Squirrel Part 1 Writer J.M. DeMatteis, Artist Tom Mandrake, Colorist Hi-Fi, Letterer Travis Lanham
It’s that time of the year with the DC/Hanna-Barbera crossover books and this years crop is definitely some of the wildest ones yet. This first team up really goes to the dark side of things with Tieri having a mash-up of a number of genres and story elements but somehow manages to keep it all on track somehow. One of the best assets to his scrip is even though it gets pretty dark he never forgets that Yogi is a comedy character so there is quite a bit of humor mixed in that gives the story a nice balance that made for a fun and light read. One of my favorite things that Tieri does in this book is see how many other classic Hanna-Barbara characters that he can cram in and I think it might be a new record because there were so many after a while I stopped counting. There are many borrowed elements from other mediums in the story that I’m not normally a fan of but you can tell that Tieri is paying homage to them and they end up being nice touches to the story. Texeira’s artwork is perfectly match to the script and does a nice job of capturing the darker tones of the story and is also able to draw the more light-hearted moments in the script as well. He put a ton of detail into each panel that you really want to take the time to see all of the little touches that he fits into the book. This is a really nice looking book and really brings together the story quite nicely. The Secret Squirrel is the first of a four-part story that is in each of four specials and will review it with the last chapter later in the reviews.
Is this book worth your time and money? I have been a fan of these book from the first crossovers and while the last batch was a bit on the mixed side this time around there are no major disappointments. I was definitely caught off guard a bit with this one because of the darker tone when the book gets going but I have to hand it to Tieri that it all came together nicely in the end and made for an enjoyable read and Texeira’s artwork brought the whole package together visually and made it a winner. RECOMMENDED!
Green Lantern/Huckleberry Hound #1
DC Comics Writer Mark Russell, Penciler Rick Leonardi, Inkers Dan Green & And Parks, Colorist Steve Buccellato, Letterer Wes Abbott, Secret Squirrel Part 2 Writer J.M. DeMatteis, Artist Tom Mandrake, Colorist Hi-Fi, Letterer Travis Lanham
I alway feel bad for the other crossover books when Russell is writing one because he always ends up delivering not only an entertaining story but one that is both socially relevant and heartfelt at the same time. I was a little nervous with the first three pages of the story that were pretty basic superhero fare but when he gets to the real meat of the story not only is it brilliant but adds in shades of his wonderful Snagglepuss elements from the recent mini series of the same name. John Stewart has always been a powerful character with a strong history of social commentary and Russell leans on that quite well here. Setting the story in 1972 at the hight of the Vietnam War might be history but Russell make it as relevant today as it was back then and maybe more so with the current state of affairs. The story on the one hand can be a bit daunting to read because of the subject matter but the one thing that I have always loved about Russell’s writing is that he always infuses hope into the story and this one is no different. He shows us that power comes from within and there is a hero in us all and that message is the books most poignant and best assets. Leonardi visually makes sure that the emotions of the script are front and center and he infuses the artwork with a perfect balance of all of them to deliver the story perfectly. He never overplay the artwork he just lets it blend with the script and handles the delicate subject matter with just the right amount of care. The Secret Squirrel is the second of a four-part story that is in each of four specials and will review it with the last chapter later in the reviews.
Is this book worth your time and money? While socially relevant storytelling in comics might not be a big selling point to a lot of readers but this comics shows that there are many elements that can go into one and make it both though provoking and entertaining. This book might not be the escapism that you may have wanted but it does however make you think and that is what a great comic should do. Sometimes you have to have a deeper connection with a story and Russell and Leonardi have crafted a story that delivers a story that is needed now more than ever. This is what a comic can an should be. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!
Nightwing/Magilla Gorilla #1
DC Comics Writer Heath Corson, Pencillers Tom Grummett & Tom Derenick, Inkers Cam Smith & Andy Owens, Colorist Pete Pantazis, Letterer Carlos M. Mangual, Secret Squirrel Part 3 Writer J.M. DeMatteis, Artist Tom Mandrake, Colorist Hi-Fi, Letterer Travis Lanham
After the deep reading experience of Green Lantern/Huckleberry Hound it was a refreshing palette cleansing of a simple murder mystery that Corson cooks up with this crossover. Corson keeps the story simple but there are so many nice touches with both Dick Grayson’s history and lots of Hollywood references that give this book a real charm of a story. What I liked about the story is that he keeps it on point and while its pretty easy to figure out who the villain is, he does give it some nice twists and turns to deliver a nice little surprise in the end that was very satisfying. Grummett and Derenick deliver some nice and solid artwork that captures the mood and feel of the story and do a great job with the emotional moments in the story and draw some damn fine apes too. The Secret Squirrel is the third of a four-part story that is in each of four specials and will review it with the last chapter later in the reviews.
Is this book worth your time and money? The one thing that this book really delivers is fun and a good old fashion murder mystery works really well here. Corson never tries to make the story bigger than it needs to be so it never overplays any of the elements. It stays on track and that is its best asset. Throw in some really nice and solid artwork and you have a book that delivers on what it sets out to do. Well worth picking up.
Superman/Top Cat #1
DC Comics Writer Dan Didio, Penciller Shane Davis, Inker Michelle Delecki, Colorists Dean White, J. Nanjan & Hi-Fi, Letterer Travis Lanham, Secret Squirrel Part 4 Writer J.M. DeMatteis, Artist Tom Mandrake, Colorist Hi-Fi, Letterer Travis Lanham
Out of all four of these crossover special this might be the one that didn’t blow me away or was as strong as the rest but it did have a charm that helped it along the way. It’s well known that Didio is a huge fan of Top Cat and this is his second outing for the character (He previously wrote a back up story in the Adam Strange/Future Quest special from last year) and it was no surprise that he was the writer on this one. While he may be the co-publisher of DC Comics his writing ability is a little on the mixed side. While the story has its moments the one thing that does not help is the pacing of the story. I do think that there are some good ideas here and it’s not a terrible read but Superman and Top Cat never quite gel together as well as the other crossover books. I think that is where the book struggles a bit because they never really have much in common beyond the weak story elements that tie them together. The story is readable and there are a few moments with especially the Top Cat humor where the book perks up a bit but the story ends up being way too simple and by the numbers that keeps it from really taking off. On the plus side for the book is the artwork by Davis that props up the story and makes it better visually than the script has on the page. He really helps this book along to the finish line and bravo to him for making it a bit better than it really was. OK you’ve read through three other reviews and now we come to the final chapter of the Secret Squirrel back ups and overall the story is simple but never is overly compelling. DeMatteis gives the story some nice moments here and there but it’s a pretty simple spy story but never quite captures the charm of the original animated version. He tries to add some humor to the story here and there and most of the time it works but the actual spy story tends to drag along and is pretty flat reading experience. The saving grace to it is Mandrake’s artwork that has a great style that delivers a very moody look that helps this story along and makes is a bit more enjoyable along the way but in the end he is only able to do so much with the simple scripts.
Is this book worth your time and money? This book is the weak link of the four book and while it’s not a totally wipeout it just pales compared to the other books and that doesn’t help it out at all. I can’t say that it totally worth buying but if you’re getting the other three and can afford to get this one it’s simply an OK read with very nice artwork so there is at least one thing going for it. Plus you at least get to see how the Secret Squirrel story ends. So it’s a marginal pass in the end but only if you’re getting the other three books.
West Coast Avengers #3
Marvel Comics Writer Kelly Thompson, Artist Stefano Caselli, Colorist Triona Farrell, Letterer Joe Caramagna
I’ve alway had a soft spot for superhero teams that are made up of characters that nobody really wants to use and Thompson has taken that challenge at Marvel and the results continue to impress. What I’m loving so far about this book is that she simply is delivering a fun reading experience with this book. In a lot of ways this is a comic that will not blow you away but that is not its intention. With this third outing of her first story arc continues to build out the foundation of introducing the cast while still delivering a solid story. Let be really honest here she is having the team fight giant monsters invading California so you can pretty much see the track that she is taking this book and that is why it’s so fun and charming. The other thing that I love about her writing is her snappy dialog for the book that keep the brisk pace of the story moving along perfectly. Having Caselli’s artwork on this book has been a great companion to Thompson’s scripts. He is able to capture all of the elements of the story both big and small with a great visual flair and one of his best assets is the way that he captures facial expressions perfectly that really has this book firing on all cylinders.
Is this book worth your time and money? This book is not high art but then it doesn’t try to be either. Thompson and Caselli are delivering a simply fun superhero team book here but they are doing is capturing the charm and heart of second string heroes and giving them a chance to shine in the spotlight. RECOMMENDED!
Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Terror #1
Ahoy Comics Writers Tom Peyer, Mark Russell, Cienna Madrid, & Hunt Emerson, Artists Fred Harper, Peter Snejbjerg, Carley Wright, & Hunt Emerson, Colorist Michael Garland, Letterer Rob Steen
I love horror comics and horror mixed with humor is some of the best. One of my favorites was PLOP! from DC Comics back in the mid 1970’s that mixed the two genres with great success and Ahoy Comics is trying to recreate this formula here. They wisely use the anthology format that allows shorter and more focused stories and creators that may not be able to do full issue stories. It also give readers more chances for success if a story is a bit underwhelming then you have more to save the day hopefully. This first outing is off to a very good start and up first is Peyer and Harper story about a famous chef with a nasty cough that was affecting his famous baked goods. The story works fairly well but I thought that the pacing was a bit of an issue but not entirely fatal. The artwork by Harper is very nice and has a great EC Comics feel and look that is a big plus for the story. Next up is a wonderful and the best story of the book by Russell (no surprise here) and Snejbjerg that uses Count Chocula (wisely changed to the Marquis) that invites guest to breakfast and tries to keep the fact that he is a vampire a secret only to be tested by a rival. Russell delivers a devilish delicious tale here with nice twist and turns and a fantastic ending that is simply perfect. Snejbierg’s artwork here is gorgeous and wonderfully captures the nuances of Russell’s script perfectly here and has a great balance of horror and humor that really brings this one home. The final story by Emerson is a two page gag cartoon about the origin of Poe’s The Raven and is sly and spot on and very much inspired by MAD Magazine and is wonderful. There is a prose story by Madrid that is a nice addition to the book at the end of the issue.
Is this book worth your time and money? This book was a nice little surprise this week and who doesn’t like a good horror anthology comic. What I loved most was that instead of a traditional horror based anthology they went the MAD Comics and PLOP! route with this book and that was a very wise choice. Doing humor is hard but overall this was an enjoyable read and worth the cover price. Hopefully they will be about to continue to keep the quality of the talent up to this level as the book goes on but we will have to see if that is the case. At least for this first issue it’s off to a very good start.
Hex Wives #1
Vertigo Comics Writer Ben Blacker, Mirka Andolfo, Colorist Marissa Louise, Letterer Josh Reed
The new wave of Vertigo continues with this new series that puts a new spin on the classic Witch mythology. Blacker comes up with an interesting spin on the Witch genre here but is a bit mixed with the execution. I felt that the set up part of this first issue was a bit uneven and dragged a bit until he got to the twist in the story. It just seemed that the pacing of it wasn’t even enough and there were a few times where it seemed a little confusing. I was nearly ready to write the one-off but went the twist hits you’re a little lost but that was on purpose and when you get to the last page it all comes together nicely. While the script was a little uneven the artwork on the other hand was very nice Andolfo did a really great job on the artwork here and one of the best things that she did was vary the style to give each era of the story a slightly different look that visually really helped the story. Her own book Unnatural over at Image Comics makes her work here no surprise that it’s so good. I loved how she varied the layouts in this first issue that gave the book a great visual flow even when the story was not as tight she really helped this first issue along nicely.
Is this book worth your time and money? This first issue was really uneven but comes together in the end that is worth given the book a second chance. Blacker has some good ideas here but fumbled a bit with the pacing but with the last act of this first issue was really strong so hopefully he is able to build on it in the second issue. Andolfo really saves this book with her artwork and I am willing to give the book a chance for a few issue on her work alone. Not perfect but shows promise.
Heroes In Crisis #2
DC Comics Writer Tom King, Artist Clay Mann & Travis Moore, Colorist Tomeu Morey & Arif Prianto
The first issue of this event comic got off to a strong start and this second issue continues to methodically unfold the story meaning that King is going for the long-term with this story and that means that every issue is not going to necessarily have huge reveals or big action sequences. This second issue builds very nicely from the first issue and continues to not feel like an event story but more like a well though out novel. What King has done here with the story is a good old fashion murder mystery and has layered and more complex story than most mainstream superhero stories. I have to say that they way that he is balancing it all in just these first two issues is impressive so far and cant wait to see what he has up his sleeves as is goes along. I’m glad that he didn’t actually kill a certain character (no spoilers here) because as we can see it appears that he is going to be a crucial element of the story. Harley Quinn has turned out to be quite the surprise in this story and King has given her a nice role so far and I am intrigued to see where that goes. Mann is joined by Moore to finish out this issue and their styles blend together quite nicely and while you can tell the difference it’s not jarring like some change overs are and that was a big plus. There is a lot of dramatic dialogue moments in the story and they both do a wonderful job with the artwork on those scenes that are a big key to this story and I can see why they were chosen to draw this story.
Is this book worth your time and money? I’m not a fan of “event” comics but I have to give King, Mann and Moore props for not going the usual route of heroes getting together because of some crisis and while there are shades of that here, King gives the story much more depth than usual for this type of story and that is what is setting this apart from the pack. Still liking what they are delivering in this book and still a strong win. VERY RECOMMENDED!
Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth #1
DC Comics Writer James Tynion IV, Artist Howard Porter, Colorist Hi-Fi, Letterer Tom Napolitano
Speaking of “event” comics here. Is the opposite of Heroes in Crisis that delivers pretty much what you would expect from this book and while it’s a fairly decent read there is not much depth to the story beyond the world is coming to an end with the Ocean Lords trying to take over the world. It’s kind of like a Pinky and the Brain episode but not as fun. Tynion script is a by the numbers affair here and while the story is acceptable there is nothing new or compelling to give you a reason to buy this or all of the tie in books to boost sales. Aquaman has always been a tough character to crack and Tynion doesn’t really bring much new to his story here and with all of the events going on in the surface world this story doesn’t really accomplish much beyond setting things up and that is where the book fails in that there is nothing really compelling in this book to give me a reason to bother with this crossover event. I will give Porter that the artwork on the book is really nice and that is pretty much the high point of the book that I found. He is able to draw all of the big and small elements of the story but in the end I really didn’t care about much of anything.
Is this book worth your time and money? Look this book is not a terrible read and a lot of people like these types of stories but for me there needs to be more to an “event” story than the whole world is ending because of the villains what to rule the world. We have been there and done that and this one doesn’t bring anything new to the table. SKIP IT!
Batman/The Maxx #2
IDW/DC Comics Writer and Artist Sam Keith, Colorist Ronda Pattison, Letterer Shawn Lee
The imagination of Keith continues to drive this dream like story into a world that seems to be all over the place if you have never read The Maxx before but as I can see as a seasoned Maxx reader that it’s coming together nicely. Keith is a writer that tells a whole story that doesn’t necessarily translate to a monthly release. The story is very obviously meant to be read in one sitting and is a bit difficult to follow with waiting a month for the next chapter. With tha being said I likes the way that he moved the story forward here and the pieces of the puzzle are starting to come into focus. While some things are still a little fuzzy that is just the way that he tends to write and is not going to be for everyone. The biggest draw of this book is Keith’s artwork that continues to amaze and impress with is going back and forth between the real world and the outback is a true feast for the eyes and along with Pattison’s gorgeous color work makes this a real visual treat.
Is this book worth your time and money? This is not going to be for everyone but if your willing to ride the story out from what I can see so far that it will all come together in the end. Keith has a great way of bending reality in his work and the addition of the Batman universe to The Maxx mythology is a wild ride that I am liking so far. If your willing to take the leap into something different then check it out but you have to ride the whole story out.