Comic books and graphic novels


Slow Pokes a Fast-Paced Syfy-Level Creature Feature

The Slow Pokes #1

Move over Sharknado -- there's a new species set to wreak havoc in a made-for-TV way.

Steve Urena's SLOW POKES is the kind of fun schlock you'd expect to find on 1990s Syfy late at night, in terms of both plot and execution. The story follows a group of high school seniors on their last field trip to a high tech think-tank-and-amusement-park, where the chief scientist, Eden Rare, makes scientific strides before breakfast. However, her latest world-saving foray has gone incredibly awry. Attempting to speed up the metabolism of three-toed sloths so that their accelerated mating cycles might save them from extinction, she instead made these creatures -- with their already extremely long claws -- swift, deadly killing machines.


Misery Loves Company in Ahoy's Happy Hour

Happy Hour #1 from Ahoy Comics

In the world of Peter Milligan's HAPPY HOUR, the government has all but eliminated societies ills and unrest by treating the root cause of unhappiness -- unhappiness itself. A surgical procedure, performed on everyone, makes the brain incapable of feeling sadness, which gives everyone a peppy, optimistic outlook on everything, including terminal cancer.

But when Jerry suffers a head injury in an automobile accident, he awakens to a room of smiling doctors and nurses who tell him his sister is dead. When Jerry is outraged by their lack of appropriate reactions, they realize Jerry's injuries have worked against his surgery -- he's sad about his sister's death, and something has to be done about that.


Zachary Levi Attacked For Reminding Some Humans That Other People are Humans Too

Zachary Levi post-election Tweet

Sometimes when an actor finishes a film, he or she retains a prop of some kind, a souvenir or memento they can look to in the future for a conversation piece.

Zachary Levi seems to have come away from his stint on SHAZAM with the coolest and most valuable vestige ever: The Wisdom of Solomon. (The superhero character more commonly known as Captain Marvel gains his powers by shouting out an acronym, which gains him the combined powers of Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury.)

During the trying and tiring time of the last few days, as votes were being tabulated with deliberation and states were switching colors more slowly than leaves in autumn, Levi interected a thought onto Twitter -- a place designed ostensibly just for that purpose but, ironically, in abject opposition to the ideal on most days.


Mike S. Miller's MAGANIFICENT SEVEN May Be Last Hurrah for Trump-Trend Comics

Maganificent Seven

Presidents have been featured, satirized, and flat-out lampooned in comics for as long as there have been Presidents and free speech. Superboy and Superman both managed to meet President Kennedy. Spider-Man met President Obama. President Roosevelt was nearly a junior member of the All-Star Squadron.

But unless my comics memory is failing (it could be -- I'm getting older, and I've read comics for a long, long time), there hasn't been a deluge of praise-and-parody comic books such as that which has been unleashed following the 2016 election of President Donald Trump. From Antarctic Press's TREMENDOUS TRUMP and TRUMP'S SPACE FORCE, Keenspot's TRUMP'S TITANS, and a cascade of others, Trump comics has become a cottage industry over the past four years.


DIE! NAMITE #2 Expands Cast, Dials Up Zombie Threat to 11


Alright, so the first issue of Dynamite's multi-world zombie adventure, DIE! NAMITE, was pretty much living up to expectations. We've seen Vampirella and Red Sonja cross paths so many times, with so many variations, they're veritably sorority sisters. And while we didn't see Dejah Thoris, we did see the brief return of John Carter. But the first inkling that this had the potential to over-deliver came at the end when Red Sonja encountered the least likely character of all -- Evil Ernie's possessed happy-face button, Smiley. That made me sit up and take notice.

This second issue, however, pulls out all the stops, and brings in a lot of new characters that go in uniquely unexpected directions. We'll get to them in a minute.


Out of The Goon: The Unholy Bastards vs. The Future

Unholy Bastards vs The Future

Those loveable orphans from THE GOON get a one-shot adventure in time when a mysterious man from the future hires a time-traveling mercenary to retrieve an object from the past. At stake is the last of the Squeaky Air Breakers bicycles.

Guess who has one. That's right, the Unholy Bastards themselves, and they leave it behind when they run off to see old Mrs. McGreg having a deranged battle with the mailman. But they quickly follow after it when it gets stolen, leaping throug the open time warp and finding themselves in the prehistoric era before finally making their way to the future -- a future where the orphanage is run by Mrs. McGreg clones and the children are in need of a violent liberation.

Tom Sniegoski, steve Mannion, and Scott Brown collaborate on this moral parable, delivered by The Goon and Franky themselves. Expertly drawn and irreverently written, these rotten little kids will capture your heart -- and then put it in a jar and pee on it.


Zorro Leaves His Mark on The Land That Time Forgot

Zorro and the Land That Time Forgot 1

Don Diego de la Vega -- aristocratic playboy son of a wealthy aristocrat, in the infant days of La Reina de los Angeles, which would one day become the city of Los Angeles. In his daily life, he has access to information about the ruling class and their unfair, ruthless treatment of the peasantry. In secret, he adopts the costumed identity of El Zorro, "The Fox," to fight those abusing their power with his whip and his blade.

The impact of Zorro is felt across the entirety of the spectrum of the comic book industry, The Zorro movie has been made a seminal part of the Batman mythos itself, so influential it is.


Butcher Queen: Planet of the Dead Kicks Off New Chapter for Red 5 Comics Space Adventure

Butcher Queen

BUTCHER QUEEN is set in a future seen through the eyes of Rutger Hauer sci-fi films. It's focus is on Syd Kiowa, a former police detective on the outs and on the run who has banded together with a rag-tag group of bounty hunters composed of a few aliens and a synthezoid cybernetic.

This latest issue from creators Jim Ousley and Ben Sawyer, PLANET OF THE DEAD, finds her and her crew being sought out by the Interdimensional Task Force for an assignment she is uniquely qualified for. The existence of multiple dimensions has been recently discovered, and one of those alternate Earths is looking to make colonization inroads to Syd's Earth. But the man behind it is the alternate-version of a criminal Syd has faced before when she was on the force.


Unreadable Mess: Batgirl #50 Ends Run Minus Gratefulness and Grace

Batgirl 50 2020

There's a lot to unpack here, so get comfortable. You may want to order in, have a drink ready. Maybe even go pee first. But the tl'dr of this review is this: Cecil Castellucci sent Batgirl out on a self-centered, narcisisstic, self-aggrandizing, self-righteous, holier-than-thou, solipsistic whimper of a comic book that was less written than it was defecated.

So let's start with the first story of this terrible trio, "Little Wonders" with art from Emanuela Lupacchino with inks from Wade Von Grawbadger, Mick Gray, and Scott Hanna. As you can surmise, the art style is going to shift throughout this tale due to the amount of cooks in the kitchen. It shows as we go from scene to scene, following Barbara from the graveyard with her father, to the Batcave with the Bats, to the streets of Gotham that are in chaos.


Batman: Three Jokers Ends by Undoing Its One Premise

Three Jokers #3

Warning: This review will contain major spoilers for BATMAN: THREE JOKERS #3.

There's a part of me that wants to review BATMAN: THREE JOKERS based solely on the three issues of the series. That may sound odd to some, but you have to place the story in its original context: that it has been anticipated story for several years now, ever since writer Geoff Johns first dropped the hint when he was writing JUSTICE LEAGUE. But more on that in a little while.


Grimm's Halloween Special Succeeds in the Shorts, Stumbles with the Framing

Grimm tales of Terror 2020 Halloween Special

Keres, Goddess of Death, hosts another GRIMM TALES OF TERROR anthology, just in time for Halloween. The horror anthology comic has long been a staple of the comic book industry -- playing a large role in what nearly killed it during the Wertham era, and then a regular go-to for twist-ending shorts from the likes of DC's HOUSE OF MYSTERY, Charlton's MIDNIGHT TALES, and PC's TWISTED TALES.


Blake Undying: Suicide is the Worst Way to Find Out You're a Superhero

Blake Undying #1

Blake has had enough, and is ready to call it quits. Not his relationship or his job -- Blake's ready to check out completely. Buy that farm, kick that bucket.

And it's not that he hasn't tried. He's tried. He's tried a lot. The problem is, he keeps getting back up, no matter method he employs to end his life. Nothing kills him -- even though it still hurts like hell. As the tagline says, "Suicide is the worst way to find out you're a superhero."


Intellectual Property Minus Business Acumen Equals Doubt for Terrific Productions LLC's Publishing Future

Youngblood Terrific LLC

Anyone collecting comics in the 1990s will remember Youngblood as being one of the tentpoles of the Image Comics revolution, vaulting creator Rob Liefeld from stardom to super-stardom in the industry. With the entire philosophy of Image being one of creator ownership, it came as something of a surprise a few years ago when it was discovered Rob Liefeld no longer owned the team that had become so popular. That property, as well as another Liefeld property, Supreme, now belong to one Andrew Rev, a name once known in the comics industry for taken over the yoke of Comico and sending the comics publisher that had, once upon a time, rivalled Marvel in terms of units, into a nosedive.


Monsters Run in Mary's Family: The Adventures of Mary Shelley's Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Granddaughter

Mary: Advs of Mary Shelley's GGGGG-Gdaughter

Sixteen year old Mary Shelley carries a 197-year-old burden. She's the great, great, great, great, GREAT granddaughter of the original Mary Shelley -- you know, the lady who invented the science fiction genre with her story about a doctor who revives the dead? Right, that Mary Shelley, and that book. And ever since that fateful publication, the Shelley lineage has been populated with authors, including modern Mary's grandmother (recipes) and her mother, Tawny, who writes a mega-successful mystery series about a crime-solving sleuth, also named Tawny.

Mary is the one next in line, with the expectations that she, also, will find her voice and take up the pen. But there's a problem with that.

She doesn't want to. In fact, she doesn't know what it is exactly that she wants to do, but she knows it isn't that.


Justice League Annual 2 a Much Welcomed Single-Issue Story

Justice League Annual 2

If you've seen any of my livestream rants on our YouTube channel, you know I regularly decry the loss of the "one and done" comic books, issues that contain a fully realized story--no continuations, no reference to extra-titular events. So, seeing as how Robert Venditti has complied with that in his delivery of "Death Trap," the story contained in JUSTICE LEAGUE ANNUAL #2, it behooves me to not only read it but to review it for others as well.


DIE!NAMITE Shambles Along Trail Blazed by Marvel Zombies, DCeased

Die! Namite #1

As soon as I saw the design for this first issue -- a zombified Red Sonya and the "how did they not think of this before" title, DIE!NAMITE, I knew -- absolutely knew, I say! -- that this was going to be a Johnny-come-to-lately knockoff of the inventive and entertaining DCEASED, a hanger-on for the fans of THE WALKING DEAD still pining the demise of that series. It was obvious -- obvious, I'm telling you! -- that they were going to give their licensed characters the zombie treatment, present them as a threat to surviving heroes, and wrap it all up in the five-issue allotment scheduled for the run. But, what the hell, it could be fun.


Batman: The Joker Warzone #1 a Mixed Anthology to Set Up 2021

Batman: The Joker Warzone

With an event as big as Joker War, spanning as many titles as it did, it's easy to slip in a few stories here and there, some shorts that just didn't fit into any of the established titles. That's where the one-shots come in, like BATMAN: THE JOKER WARZONE, telling stories that happened behind and between the scenes.


Ways Comic Books Can Improve Writing Skills

Comic Books Influence Writing

Having good writing skills benefits a student during his academic life. The skills remain just as significant, if not more, once you enter the job market. Reading comic books is a useful and exciting option for kids, as well as adults, to polish this skill. Here are some benefits of comic books.



Reading Comprehension


Talking Craft with NYT Bestselling Graphic Novelist Kazu Kabuishi

Amulet Kazu Kabuishi

Between FLIGHT, COPPER, paperback cover illustrations of the Harry Potter books, and eight volumes of the best-selling graphic novel AMULET (with a ninth in the works), writer/artist Kazu Kibuishi is a role model for not excepting or expecting anything but success. His canny understanding of storytelling, as well as of where the market swings are in comic book culture, have made him an expert in the artform, capable of speaking on subjects from the most esoteric anime to your run-of-the-mill superhero arc.

Critical Blast is joined by UNSTITCHED creator Justin Dutton to spend an hour with Kibuishi discussing these aspects of the graphic novel industry, and what traits make for stories that stand the test of time -- and remain evergreen sellers in bookstores. Check the video below for all the details.


Neotheric: The Return of the King Irreverent Clash of Genres

Neotheric Cover

Sixty-five million years ago, dinosaurs disappeared from the face of the Earth.

Yesterday, four of them came back -- crash landing into the Mayberry-esque town of Riverside Junction in the same ship that took them away millennia ago.


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