Hellboy Winter Special 2018 #1
Dark Horse Comics Writers Mike Mignola, Gabriel Ba, Fabio Moon, Tonci Zonjic, Artists Ben Stenbeck, Gabriel Bá & Fabio Moon, Tonci Zonjic, Colorist Dave Stewart, Letterer Clem Robins
Another Christmas preset from the Hellboy team this year is three short stories that are charming little tales that are a little off the beaten Christmas cheer path but still entertain in the end. First up is Mignola and Stenbeck that doesn’t have much to do with the holiday but is a nice and sweet short story that is sure to please both new and old Hellboy fans. Mignola has a great knack for delivering these little short story gems and this one is a winner. While the structure may be familiar the story works well and Stenbeck’s artwork does a great job of capturing the action and thrills of the story. The second story Lost Ones by Bá and Moon is the one that I was most taken with because it’s a story with heart and works even without Hellboy showing up on the last page. This one is a real charmer that hits all of the right beats perfectly and the artwork really makes this story shine with the perfect visuals to match the story. The final story The Empty Chair by Zonjic starring Lobster Johnson that does a wonderful job of mixing Christmas with noir and is the only story that has elements of Christmas in it and mixes the two genres quite nicely here. Zonjic keep the things short and sweet here and while it’s a pretty simple good versus evil story it hits all of the right beats quite well and the artwork really captures the noir aspect of the story.
Is this book worth your time and money? While last years Mignola and Adam Hughes Krampus story was going to be nearly impossible to beat, going with the three short stories was a wise move and gave each team a chance to do their own thing. While they were all fun reads the one that really charmed me the most was Lost Ones by Bá and Moon that was really heartfelt and had a winning charm. In the end each story worked very well and while they weren’t all steeped heavily in Christmas themes they all had the spirit of the holidays. This book is great for both new and long time Hellboy fans and is always a great present each year. RECOMMENDED!
Goddess Mode #1
Vertigo Comics Writer Zoë Quinn, Artist Robbi Rodriguez, Colorist Rico Renzi, Letterer Simon Bowland
This is one of those books that I think might be good but this first issue is so overstuffed and convoluted with dialogue that I’m not quite sure what Quinn is trying to do here. The one thing that the book does have going for it is that it’s a visual feast in both artwork and color but the story is sadly hallow and empty and there is simply not enough characterization for the reader to actually care about. Quinn throws so much into this first issue that you barely get to know Cassandra and you certainly are not given enough to care about her. The other problem is that she has set this world up with all of these problems and yet were just expected to go with it even though it makes absolutely no sense of it while your reading the story. She also tends to over dialogue the story and there are parts that just drone on and on and you get pretty board very quickly with that. Visually is where the book shines and while Rodriguez’s artwork really shines here the story is such a mess that there is little that he is able to do to help the readers make sense of all of this mess of a story. Renzi’s color work here does a great job of complementing Rodriguez’s line work and adds greatly to the look of this book.
Is this book worth your time and money? First time writer Quinn unfortunately falls into the trap of the first issue by cramming so much story into this comic that it’s nearly unreadable. She throws so many things at you and by the end your so exhausted and frustrated because you simply have no idea what the hell is going on here and you end up not caring. That’s a shame because I think that there are some good ideas here and Rodriguez’s artwork is great but in the end there is very little to recommend beyond the art and that is where the book fails. It might be worth trying the second issue to see if any of the story issues are addressed but I can’t say that I’m willing to try that. SKIP IT!
Albatross Funnybooks Writer Gabe Soria, Artist/Colorist/Letterer Gideon Kendall
Megaghost is one of those comics that wont blow you away but has an endearing charm that will win you over. Lets be honest here Soria’s story has been told a million times before but what he does right here are two things keep it simple and tell the story well and he does both spot on. He also doesn’t try and reinvent the wheel here and just makes the story fun. He makes sure that the characters are well-rounded and play their parts well. He also doesn’t dumb down the story to make it kid friendly but makes sure that it works well for any age and make sure that the readers have fun with the story while their reading it. The other reason that the book works is due to Kendall’s wonderful artwork on the book that gives it an old EC Comics look but keeps it in the goofy charming look that complements Soria’s script quite nicely. He gives it a nice horror visual feel that I was very impressed with.
Is this book worth your time and money? This is one of those comics that you get what you pay for in that it’s the story of a boy and his robot and in this case its a magical robot but Soria and Kendall keep things simple and fun and that’s why I enjoyed it. If you’re looking for a good all ages book this one will fit the bill and you just might end up enjoying it like I did. Well worth checking out.
Black Hammer: Cthu-Louise #1
Dark Horse Comics Writer Jeff Lemire, Artist/Colorist/Letterer Emi Lenox
Yet another great book that proves that the Black Hammer Universe it a must read and as much as I enjoy the main stories, I really love these side stories that gives the supporting cast a chance to dive deeper into their stories and the universe that Lemire has created here. What makes this one shot so great is that the deeper story here is that Louise just wants to fit in and be normal and that is what we try to do every day but in here case having a dad that is Cthu-Lou doesn’t make that any easier on her. Lemire doesn’t overplay the story here and just keeps it on point and gives this story a great flow that works wonderfully from start to finish. One of the best things about this story is that its so heartfelt and relatable that makes it such a great read. I’m a big fan of Lenox’s work on Plutona that was also written by Lemire and she is the perfect artist for this story. Her clean line work on this story gives it a fairy tale look and feel that makes it work so well. This is a really good-looking book and a fine addition to the Black Hammer mythology.
Is this book worth your time and money? It’s hard to believe that Lemire continues to deliver some of the best stories in comics today and with each passing story in the Black Hammer Universe gives it a richness that very few comics attain in today’s market. This book is not only a winner but brought a tear to my eye because of the great emotions that he infuses into these characters. Bringing in Lenox to illustrate this story is a stroke of genus and makes this one of the best stories to date. It doesn’t get better than this. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!
The Batman Who Laughs #1
DC Comics Writer Scott Snyder, Artist Jock, Colorist David Baron, Letterer Sal Cipriano
I was not the biggest fan of the Dark Nights Metal crossover but was willing to give this spinoff book a try because I’m a huge fan of Jock’s artwork. The good news is that you don’t need to have read the original crossover because Snyder has wisely put any pertinent story details in the script to get new readers up to speed and it doesn’t bog the story down with exposition. This story is more like an Elseworlds type of story that seems to take place outside of current continuity and stands on its own quite well. The one thing that was a bit overwhelming is that the story really goes to the dark side and there its quite a bloodbath here and that might turn some readers off but if that’s not a problem for you then Snyder gives quite the ride out of the gate with this first issue. I will give him that the pacing on this first issue is quite good and he handles the exposition very well that never drags down the story. Of course the big win for this book is Jock’s artwork that gives the story a great visceral look and feel that fits the story like a glove. He handles both the action and the smaller dramatic elements in the story with ease and along with colorist Baron complements his line work very well here. There is a lot to take in here visually and Jock delivers some of his best work to date here.
Is this book worth your time and money? Honesty my expectations were pretty low here for a spinoff of a story that I didn’t really care for but Snyder and Jock deliver quite a ride here and there is some truly messed up story elements that I was not expecting. The story is good enough that I will stick with it and it was a very good read this week.
Bitter Root #2
Image Comics Writers David F. Walker & Chuck Brown, Artist Sanford Greene, Colorist Rico Renzi & Greene, Letterer Clayton Cowles
I was very impressed with the first issue of Bitter Root and while the second issue might not be quite as exciting but is every bit as good but in a different way. With the first issue of a comic there is a new and freshness to it that you don’t get in a second outing but what you need is for the story to move forward and that is what Walker and Brown have done here very well is keep the momentum of the first issue and build upon it and keep expanding it. They also do a nice job of revealing story elements that is keeping the story interesting but make sure that there is story twist that you don’t see coming and get you very excited to see where they take the story next. Walker and Brown make sure that the characters continue to develop and give the readers reasons to care about them and gives the story a great grounding quality that allows all of the crazy stuff to work. Greene continues to bring his A game to this book and while the big crazy visuals are a real treat, its the emotional details that he puts into the characters facial expressions that make this book work so well. He gave the book a strong visual foundation that brings all of the story elements together that is making this book such a pleasure to read.
Is this book worth your time and money? I am really enjoying this book and Walker, Brown and Greene have found a great formula of real history and a heavy dose of fiction to make this book fire on all cylinders. This is becoming a really must read comic and they are delivering a really good comic book here. VERY RECOMMENDED!
William Gibson’s Alien 3 #2
Dark Horse Comics Story William Gibson, Writer and Artist Johnnie Christmas, Colorist Tamra Bonvilain, Letterer Nate Piekos
I was excited to hear of this adaption of Gibson’s un-produced script for Alien 3 and while the first issue was a bit on the dry side due to the set up and the pacing of the script, I hoped that the second issue would be able to pick up the pace and thankfully it did. The pacing is certainly not a knock on Christmas because he is limited to the pacing of the script and he is only able to fill that out in so many panels fo artwork that understandably made the first issue a bit on the dry side but this second issue defiantly picks up the pace with the story and moves nicely along. This is a completely different story and that is what is making it so exciting because rarely do you ever get to read an un-produced script let along a comic book adaptation of it. The one thing that he does get very much right with the script is that it feels like a film from 1992 and Christmas does a good job with the script and the visuals. With not a lot of action so far the visuals have to capture the drama and the facial expressions of the characters and he does that quite well. The only minor gripe that I have is that there are times where the backgrounds are a little sparse but overall the artwork works well here and captures the visuals well.
Is this book worth your time and money? This second outing gives readers a better foundation as to where the story is going and we start to learn a bit more here. It’s pretty obvious that Gibson followed the basic structure of the previous two Alien films with the script and it does follow a similar pattern but it does at least try to add some new things into the mix. If you’re a fan of the Alien franchise then you should give this book a chance especially if you are me and have a fondness for Alien 3.
Murder Falcon #3
Image Comics Writer and Artist Daniel Warren Johnson, Colorist Mike Spicer, Letterer Rus Wooton
This comic continues to be quite a nice little surprise and is not only a blast to read each month but also wears it’s heart on it’s sleeve. Johnson does a fantastic job of making sure that even with the whole giant monsters and heavy metal music that the emotions of the characters remains the core to this great story. One thing that continues to impress is the way that he is unfolding the story that gives it a nice pace and read each issue. It’s a comic that really sticks with you because there is so much more than what you read on the surface. It’s the deeper personal story of the characters that what makes this a big winner. Johnson equally brings his gorgeous artwork to this tale that brings such a kinetic energy like no other. His art is so big and epic it literally burst out of each panel and is a visual feast for you eyes. But where this book really works is when there is the more dramatic moments in the story and he captures the subtle emotions that really hit you and help you connect with the characters on a very personal level.
Is this book worth your time and money? Johnson continues to make this a must read book with each passing issue. It’s pure joy reading this from start to finish and is keeping you glued to this comic to see where he is going to take the story next. This has become a truly must read book that takes you on an emotional rollercoaster ride with action, giant monsters, Heavy Metal but most importantly heart and that is where the book shines. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Batman Damned #2
DC Black Label Writer Brian Azzarello, Artist Lee Bermejo, Letterer Jared K. Fletcher
OK let’s get the elephant out of the room the Bat-A-Wang controversy was way overblown on this book and sadly that was people were talking about instead of a bold Batman story with a great story and gorgeous artwork and that is what I am here to talk about. I like that Azzarello is using not only some great mystical DC Universe characters but he is diving deep into Bruce Wayne’s emotional scars and darkest fears to tell a very different Batman tale here. The greatest asset this comic has is that it never pulls it’s punches and is willing to go to the edge of the dark side of the emotional core of Batman. A lot of people are going to be surprised with this alternative take on Bruce’s parents but you have to remember that the DC Black Label is outside the regular continuity and is meant for a more adult audience so Azzarello has taken the story in directions that you would normally be able to do and that is why the book is so good because the kid gloves are off on this story. It’s one thing to have a great story but you need and artist to be able to capture all of the visual emotions and grit that is in the script and Bermejo give you a visual mind f**k of a ride here. He is able to capture this deep and dark story and brings it all to life that is disturbing in a good way with raw emotions that fill every inch of this book with overflowing artwork that simply blows you away.
Is this book worth your time and money. I have always loved when a creative team is allowed to take characters such as Batman to places outside the mainstream. This book reminds me of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns in the 1980’s did the same thing. It took you on a visceral ride that blew your mind and took you places you had never seen before. Azzarello and Bermejo are hitting all of the right beats on this book and is a must read. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!