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Batman ’89 (2021) #2

So it’s not Batman ‘89, it’s Batman ’93? As in, set after Batman Returns… is it just Sam Hamm’s Batman Forever? If so, it’s still okay. I just wasn’t expecting the returning character at the end of the issue. I also wasn’t expecting Hamm to do a deep cut to the original script—and the Craig Shaw Gardner novelization—of Batman. At one point, Bruce Wayne needs to costume up, and he doesn’t have his Batsuit, so […]

Superman ’78 (2021) #1

Superman ‘78 starts with a dedication page to Richard Donner, which would feel better if the comic were better. But, instead, entire sequences are just lifted from… Superman: The Movie? I mean, there are a couple continuity-building nods to Superman II (Lois Lane likes Metropolis hot dogs, not just Niagara Falls ones). However, you’d think everyone would remember in II when Superman gets thrown through the Daily Planet, the exact same thing happened once before. […]

Rowlf (1971)

Rowlf is the story of a very good dog named Rowlf who does not play the piano but is devoted to his owner, the fair maiden Maryara. Maryana’s sort of royalty, just of an impoverished land. So her best suitor ends up being a twerp who wants to assume command and lead the land to a more prosperous future. It’s never clear how, but it involves a similarly twerpy wizard, Sortrum. The suitor, Raymon, is […]

Black Star (2021)

The cynic in me can’t help thinking Black Star started as a movie screenplay. Writer Eric Anthony Glover has a bunch of narrative devices to exposition dump—there aren’t just flashbacks, there are talking omnipotent computers who playback the flashbacks. Nintendo Power Gloves with screens built-in. The computer, “Guardian” not “Mother,” tells the characters where to walk and how fast, so there’s never any concern about getting lost exactly, and they can always make the timed […]

Four-Fisted Tales: Animals in Combat (2021)

Creator Ben Towles toes (no pun) a very tight line with Four-Fisted Tales: Animals in Combat. How do you do a graphic novel about war animals in 2021? If I had to guess the target audience—like professionally, which is an odd flex for me but Animals is excellent for reluctant readers—but the target audience it’s ten-year-old boys who think both dogs, bugs, and war is cool. They’re not sure about books yet. Towles does twelve […]

Batman ’89 (2021) #1

I haven’t read any of the previous DC comics sequels to their TV or movie properties—I think it’s just been TV properties, right (“Batman” and “Wonder Woman”)—but I’m certainly sympathetic to the proposition. I did, after all, read the ostensible canon IDW Star Trek: The JJ Abrams Years series for a while. But Batman ’89… I’m actually unsure how to unpack all the nostalgia and fan service. It’s not just “another” Michael Keaton (more on […]

Red Room (2021) #1

Red Room is a revolting revelation. Intentionally. Both my alliteration and creator Ed Piskor’s infusing every page of the comic with something deeply disturbing. There’s a single character in the comic who isn’t in some way vile. Everyone else is in some way or another gross, including the preacher throwing shade about a thin funeral payment. See, Red Room is about snuff live streams, the gorier the better. Piskor expressly avoids anything particularly sexual this […]

Fear Case (2021) #3

Wait, Fear Case only runs four issues? I thought it ran five. Unfortunately, having one less issue and doing a double-decker bridge issue with the penultimate one is even worse than doing a double-decker bridge issue in the middle of a five issue series. There’s some fine art. Tyler Jenkins gets to do… well, he gets to do some apartment buildings, a bar, some desert. A warehouse. Nothing particularly exciting or heavy lifting, but it’s […]

Fear Case (2021) #2

I must’ve missed the modern technology in the first issue; Fear Case doesn’t take place in the seventies, they just drive a seventies car and artist Tyler Jenkins has a timeless (well, seventies-ish) style. The issue opens with a quick recap of the soft cliffhanger—one benefit to writer Matt Kindt’s verbose expository dialogue is quick recaps fit naturally—with our heroes investigating the next recipient of the titular Fear Case. Turns out they’re a little too […]

Fear Case (2021) #1

Fear Case is high concept supernatural police procedural, with some asterisks. It’s not exactly police—they’re Secret Service agents—and the supernatural aspects may end up constrained. It’s too soon to tell whether they’re going to go atomic glow, Gwyneth Paltrow’s head, or full Alan Moore’s The Courtyard in the eventual reveal (or if there will be a reveal at all), but writer Matt Kindt does work in some foreshadowing in the second half of the issue. […]

Run Like Crazy, Run Like Hell (2011)

Run Like Crazy, Run Like Hell is a divinely unromantic crime thriller. It’s got all sorts of romanticized parts and pieces, but creator Jacques Tardi (adapting a Jean-Patrick Manchette) always finds a different angle to present. There are four main characters and four supporting ones, then some supporting supporting ones, but the principals are Julie, a young woman recently released from a mental health institution now working as a governess, her charge, Peter, his uncle, […]

Future State: Swamp Thing (2021) #2

It’s an all-action issue, minus the epilogue, with Swamp Thing and his ragtag army of plant people and humans fighting against the evil humans and their ringleader. The ringleader’s who I thought it’d be. Ram V knows his Swamp Thing, knows the appropriate, historical supporting cast member to bring in to guest star for effect. No, not Arcane. There’s more good art from Mike Perkins, though after a while—fairly early on—it’s unclear why V needed […]

Future State: Swamp Thing (2021) #1

It never occurred to me Mike Perkins would be such a great Swamp Thing artist. There are a handful of ways to really nail Swamp Thing, with Perkins doing the passive movement thing—Swamp Thing’s branches sway in the wind (and he has branches to sway). Perkins’s art is excellent overall, but his take on Swamp Thing is very nice. Classical and very nice. Similarly, writer Ram V goes for a wordy but concise Swamp Thing. […]

Ultramega (2021) #2

Thank goodness it’s double-sized. Ultramega definite needs the double-size, what with creator James Harren introducing an entirely—sort of—new cast who’ll be taking over the comic from now on. The previous issue was very prologue-y, complete with the cliffhanger being set twenty years in the future. This issue’s got its own, Kirby-esque (squishy Kirby-esque) prologue, all about the the birth of the Kaiju and the Ultramega, which will tie into this issue’s soft cliffhanger (and refer […]

Karmen (2021) #2

More than half the issue is recently deceased Cata (by her own hand, so presumably stuck in purgatory) swimming around the city naked taking in the sights. She can swim-fly to the top of the cathedrals, she can peek on strangers in their homes, she can even end up tracking down her best friend. The best friend sets off a bunch of drama for her, which eventually leads to afterlife sponsor slash tour guide Karmen […]

Mann’s World (2021) #4

The end of Mann’s World is pretty much what I’d figured it be, complete with the compressed second-to-third act transition and an elongated epilogue. The third act itself gets short-changed, but it’d just be more peculiar action, which never engages—less Nico Walter’s wanting art, more writer Victor Gischler being out of set piece ideas. Possibly because Walter can’t handle them but possibly because it’s just time for the comic to be over. All the character […]

Mann’s World (2021) #3

The art’s less bad this issue. I’m not sure there’s any improvement from Niko Walter, but there’s less he’s bad at drawing in the story this time. Less people talking. He seriously flubs one of the conversations to the point I thought I’d gotten all the characters names wrong, not just didn’t know one of them for the first two issues. The action this time is real Deliverance, with the regular fellas out of their […]

Mann’s World (2021) #2

The art takes a dive this issue. There’s a lot less detail, but there’s also a lot of action and Niko Walker’s action art is very awkward. There’s a splash page with like four entirely different major problems. Worse, Snakebike Cortez’s coloring is pretty bad here. He’s still showing a lot of the perspective, but the coloring techniques he does with it is… well, I suppose calling it rushed would be the most polite. The […]

Mann’s World (2021) #1

Mann’s World has a simple start—a group of male friends on an “adventure” vacation together. Only instead of white water rafting through Alabama, they’re in the future and going to the title planet, which isn’t significant enough for environmentally exploiting so it’s just a giant resort. But for dudes who want to hunt; you can hunt dinosaurs, basically. There are four characters in the group. There’s the pro-fighter guy, who seems super tough until we […]

Punisher: Soviet (2020)

No question, Garth Ennis has still got that old Punisher magic. Soviet is a change from most of Ennis’s post—Punisher MAX limited series, which have been military historical fiction with the Punisher inserted, filling out the character, peeling the onion of his tragedy. Soviet’s not about Frank. Soviet is about Frank’s Russian alter ego, one Valery Stepanovich. Stepanovich has tragedies, both familial and military, in the ballpark of Frank’s history—obviously in Afghanistan, not Vietnam—and for […]


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