Comic books and graphic novels


Animal Rights Activists Get Their Own Heroes with Black Mask's Lab Raider

Lab Raider 1

Sarah and Jeanette have a calling. They are animal rights activists, willing to take things up a notch if it comes to hurting people in their pursuit of zoological justice.

The main story sees the pair breaking into an animal experimentation lab. We don't know why they experiment on animals. We learn they've recently begun to develop weapons for the government -- "Military contract from the new administration. You know." -- but whether they were a drug facility or something else isn't really important and extraneous to the fact that animals are being hurt. Let's assume it's for funsies.

As Sarah and Jeanette make their way through the facility -- conveniently left unsecured by an insider friend -- we are shown bits of their life through flashbacks. Which gets more confusing when the flashback has a flashback. Suffice it to say we are shown that they have had deadly run-ins with hunters, and have used seduction to trap and beat seal hunters for information.


Scout Comics Modernizes the Passion Play with CRUCIFIED

Crucified 1 from Scout Comics

There have been many times I've been tempted to write a modern take on the life of Jesus Nazareth. What's stopped me isn't the sheer audacity of the idea but rather the complexity of the world-building that would ensue from not having had that two-thousand-year-old touchstone upon which to hinge history. What year would it be, and what would the calendar be based on? Would the founding of America be much different if it were not for the search for religious freedoms?


Floppy Cop an Arresting Book of Bizarre Humor for Adults

Floppy Cop 2

I had heard of FLOPPY COP through social media, and writer Dan Dougherty. I've seen Dougherty's work before, and own some of it, so I was already predisposed to checking it out. Then when the first issue broke the top 500 in sales, for a relatively unknown indie press (Source Point Press), I was decidedly impressed.

So when I was making my comic stop at Cosmic Comics, and saw FLOPPY COP #2 on the shelf, I picked it up and added it to my stack. I also showed the cover to my son, reminding him that Dougherty was the artist who drew the Little Archie sketch hanging in his room, and that I'd let him read this after I had done this review.

At this point, I'm sure Mr. Dougherty is looking at his screen shouting, "No! Stop!"


Crossoverload: Red Sonja and Vampirella Meet Betty and Veronica Might be a License Too Far?

RS and Vampi meet B and V 2

Crossovers are great. Intercompany crossovers are even greater, because they are more rare (or used to be). Superman and Spider-Man was an epic event. (Batman vs The Hulk was my favorite, although less memorable.)

But the characters who seem to have the lead in the intercompany crossover department has to be the gang from Riverdale High. Archie and his pals and gals have run into The Punisher, Predator, and Batman '66, and Betty and Veronica have had their run-ins with Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. So good on them!

They keep the crossover spirit alive with this event at Dynamite Comics -- RED SONJA AND VAMPIRELLA MEET BETTY AND VERONICA. It's more than just a mouthful of a title, it's potentially a plot overload.


DCeased Breathes New Life into Superhorror Genre

When I first heard about the DCEASED concept, the immediate callback was to the Marvel Zombies issues that saw the company's super-characters turned into creatures of the undead. But an appropriate amount of time has passed so that this doesn't seem derivative and, I have to admit, the name is deucedly clever.

The conceit of DCEASED is that Darkseid has finally found the other half of the anti-life equation, buried in Cyborg's programming. But getting it out might kill Cyborg, and destroy his chances at obtaining the equation. So Darkseid summons Death personified in the form of the Black Racer, to keep him from taking Cyborg. But by introducing Death into the equation, he corrupts it, and the modified anti-life equation destroys Darkseid and all of Apokalips as his zombied body releases Omega energy from the core of the planet.


Event Leviathin: The Real Mystery is, Who Are These Characters?

Event Leviathin 1

So I've just finished reading EVENT LEVIATHIN #1 -- and boy, are my logic processors tired.

Boiled down to its core, Brian Michael Bendis's grand design is a "mad bomber" story, utilizing technology that doesn't leave behind any clues other than the massive destruction and the aforementioned lack of clues. We open with Batman sneaking into the ruins of the darn-near-just demolished ARGUS facilities to investigate, only to find he's not the only investigator there. Not first responders or CSI teams or DHS agents. Him in the dark, because that's how a Batman story works. The bodies are skeletons, because the energy was just efficient enough to detroy tissue but not so hot as to shatter bones. And who does he find waiting inside but Lois Lane, who snuck in all on her own.

And she's holding a gun on him. And she keeps it trained on him for far too long.

The dialogue exchanged between them does not, unfortunately, improve anywhere else in the book.


Talking Peter Cannon with Kieron Gillen

When we reviewed the first issue of Dynamite Comis' take on PETER CANNON: THUNDERBOLT, we were taken aback by what we read. Was this a WATCHMEN derivative? Did Kieron Gillen think people wouldn't catch on? By the end of that issue, it became clear that things were muddier than we thought (if that makes sense), and the second issue had us hooked. This was something different, something that was far more metacomic than it was supehero adventure.

When the fifth and final issue came out, we were certain that the whole thing was a reaction to what WATCHMEN had brought us, and how it had changed the industry.


Superman #12 - A Beautiful Family Reunion

Another wonderful chapter in Brian Michael Bendis' run on Superman. He's truly building something wonderful for the Superman family that we've never seen done before.

***Spoilers Ahead***

As Rogol Zaar continues to be a thorn in his side, Superman is trying to make sense of everything happening. The mystery behind his father, the truth about the destruction of his home planet, and why General Zod is working with the Kryptonian killing Zaar.


Steampunk Terrorism Clear and Present Danger in Latest Newbury and Hobbes Adventure from Titan

Newbury & Hobbes: The Undying

Sir Maurice Newbury and Veronica Hobbes are special agents to the Queen who specialize in the outre. Their world may seem to be another steampunk genre adventure, but it is much, much more than that. It's as though the best Victorian-era Doctor Who episodes were used as the backdrop for the forerunners of Jonathan Steed and Emma Peel.

Our saga opens with Sir Maurice and Miss Hobbes in a street brawl, battling masked cultists. But these are no mere anarchists, for behind their masks lies a gruesome discover -- they are a mesh of man and machine, operated on by some mad genius who has advanced science and stunted ethics.


Red Sonja Battles a Chaos God in Birth of the She-Devil

Red Sonja Birth of a She Devil 1

I'm familiar with Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith's creation, Red Sonja. But it's a passing familiarity. I recognize the character, I've read a few issues in my life. But there are years of story that I have not read, an entire mythology that I do not know.

Fortunately, I don't need to know any of that with RED SONJA: BIRTH OF THE SHE-DEVIL. Narrated by Ozzyus, the warrior who found and raised the red-haired little girl who grew up to be the scourge of despots, this tale from Luke Lieberman finds a somewhat younger Sonja on a quest to find a childhood friend, Shashana, who has been taken by Raka the Forsaken. To do what she has to do, Sonja is presented as a mix of ruthless and beguiling, strong and nubile. She dispatches warriors with ease, whether in combat or by drinking them under the table, and it would be a challenge to find a rendition of Red Sonja anywhere in comics sexier than the way Sergio Davila portrays her in this issue.


Bettie Page Unbound Brilliant Cross-Title Marketing for Dynamite

Bettie Page Unbound 1 Dynamite Comics Royle

It's another Number One issue for Bettie Page from David Avallone and Julius Ohta. And yes, it's continuing the Lovecraftian tale of Secret Agent Bettie Page, who stands against the elder gods and ancient aliens, but it's a new chapter, a new theme, and thus deserving of a new starting point. (Really, the BETTIE PAGE books have all just been standalone reads of a larger arc anyway.)

BETTIE PAGE UNBOUND is something altogether different. That is, it continues the ongoing adventure of Bettie and friends trying to stop Cthulhu and Nyarlathotep from entering our realm, but this time the creative team has an entirely new angle: a dimension-hopping Bettie who winds up in the form of a different adventurer with each hop. In this issue, she's Bettie the Page, chain-mail bikini warrior of Hyperborea.

Yes, Hyperborea. Bettie is a bad-ass, sword-wielding warrior, aka Red Sonja, a property currently under license to Dynamite.


A Superhero President Replaced by The Donald Who Laughs in Keenspot's Adult Satire

The Donald Who Laughs 1 Keenspot

John Barron and Shawn Remulac aren't the first to jump on the presidential parody train, certainly not this administration. But they are certainly doing what they can to milk the satire out of politics and comics as they approach Donald Trump with the raunchy eye of lampoonists. 

Hot on the heels of TRUMP'S TITANS, the Keenspot creators introduce THE DONALD WHO LAUGHS, a dark version of Donald Trump [insert obvious political jab here] who has, with his daughter, Darkvanka, kidnapped the real President and First Daughter so that they can take their place. As President, this evil Donald Trump [insert reflexive coughing fit here if needed] can muck about with the direction of the country while his daughter complains about how boring Jared is as she impersonates Ivanka. 


Thunderbolt Claps Back at Watchmen in Final Issue

Peter Cannon Thunderbolt 5

PETER CANNON, THUNDERBOLT wraps up its story arc with this fifth issue, whereupon the titular character takes on the titular character. It's Peter Cannon vs. Peter Cannon, but really it's more Charleston Thunderbolt takes on Watchmen's Ozymandias. But there's more going on here than simple homage from Kieron Gilen and Caspar Wijngaard.


Capes, Cowls, and Coming Out: History of the Batwoman

Batwoman from then to now

When the superheroes became popular, lo many decades ago, an attempt was made to draw in more readers by adding characters that would be (or so the theory went) relateable to girls. There was already Wonder Woman, Phantom Lady, and others, but none of them had quite the popularity of a Superman or a Batman.

And so the quick-and-easy path seemed to be to create female versions of these characters. It was a hit-or-miss process, with more misses than hits. In the Superman comics, a Superwoman was introduced in Action Comics #60 in 1943. She was easily forgotten (although has resurfaced in one incarnation or another over the years), and largely eclipsed when sixteen years later Kara Zor-El made her debut as Supergirl in the pages of Action Comics #252.


Golden Age Gets Brassy with Heroes at Large

Heroes at Large 2

So many comic book superheroes passed into the public domain that they have become golden again -- golden for independent publishers that is, who are free to use these characters to tell their stories. They're at the heart of Dynamite Comics PROJECT: SUPERPOWERS series, and have shown up in other various series.


Cyberfrog is Officially Late. Or Is It?

Cyberfrog by Ethan Van Sciver

To date, there's only one comic book hero who, at the mere utterance of his name, has the ability to evoke either dreamlike awe or cold fury from the comics fan who hears it. His name is CyberFrog, and he's the creation of comic book artist Ethan Van Sciver.

Originally created in the 90s, CyberFrog is finding new life through an Indiegogo project which has drawn acclaim for its detailed preview artwork, and criticism for it being behind its self-imposed schedule. To date, CYBERFROG: BLOODHONEY is eight months behind. If this were a car, it would be repossessed by now.


Matthew Rosenberg is Tearing the X-Men Apart and That's a Good Thing

Marvel scribe Matthew Rosenberg has warned readers that no X-Man (or woman) is safe during his run. And with Jonathan Hickman poised to reboot the X-Universe, Rosenberg is playing with old toys that are about to be replaced.

He is a bull in a china shop right now. And it's astonishing.

***Caution: MAJOR Spoilers Ahead***


The House of El is Re-United in Superman #11

Brian Michael Bendis is uniting a family that has been divided for so many years.


While Batman has enjoyed spending time with his "family" for many years, Superman has typically run solo. It something that's always seemed to separate the two. As Batman leans heavily on his ensemble cast of characters, Superman isolated himself by dealing with his problems alone.

Which is completely opposite of what you'd expect. Batman is the brooding vigilante and Superman is the family loving boy scout. Now, under the guidance of Bendis, Superman is in a fight for the future of his family alongside his father, son, and now his cousin!


Dangerous Opinions: Facebook Disconnects 250K Fans from Bounding Into Comics

BiC Censored

The landscape of opinion is a shifting mass of quicksand these days. The Internet, once a bastion of free speech -- and all the ugliness that comes with that -- has undergone a transformation to rein in opinions, protecting the eyes and ears of the many from anything that might be deemed offensive by the few.

It began with politics. When the deplatforming of Alex Jones and his InfoWars site occurred, the 1st Amendment let out an "oof" of having been punched in the stomach. No one heard it over all the cheering, however, and the social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter were emboldened to continue their pogrom against information and opinion.

The idea was to stifle politics with which the social media overseers disagreed. The inherent problem with that is this: everything is political. And so we find ourselves at a point where a comic book review website (not this one, yet) loses its presence on Facebook.


Tales to Astonish No One: Parody of Comicsgate Figures Fails to Create an Audience

Astonishing Gaters

If you are a comics fan who goes to your local shop, checks the shelves for new items, spends a few minutes in the back issue boxes, and goes home to enjoy your purchase, you live in the best of all possible worlds.

If you have a social media account, you've shattered that utopia, and have likely been told to pick a side in the ongoing culture wars -- or been forced into a side whether you chose or not. It's called ComicsGate, 

In much the same way an irritant in an oyster causes the generation of a pearl, the mainstream comic industry and the creators who  have aligned with ComicsGate have worked together -- reluctantly, unwittingly, unknowingly, anything but admittedly -- to create some gems (and some malformations) through the crowdfunding platforms that have financed their own comics, several of them to the tune of six-figures.


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