Comic books and graphic novels


Deconstructing the Doomsday Clock #11: A Lifelong Mistake

Doomsday Clock 11

It's the penultimate issue of what was anticipated to have been a huge event in the DC Universe -- the culmination, in fact, of what began in REBIRTH.

It still is the culmination of what began in REBIRTH. Except REBIRTH doesn't mean anything any longer. The years of teasing the presence of Saturn Girl in the present day, the absence of the Justice Society, the return of Wally West, THE BUTTON... all of that is for naught, because the Legion of Super-Heroes is being introduced in a different fashion, the Justice Society has already returned in JUSTICE LEAGUE, and Wally West has been ruined by Tom King in HEROES IN CRISIS.


Vampirella and Red Sonja: Together Again for the First Time

Vampirella / Red Sonja 1

When I began reading VAMPIRELLA / RED SONJA #1, I was immediately sucked in by the artwork of Drew Moss. Set in 1969, Vampirella's style was appropriate to the era. There was a beguiling beauty to this retro-look that merited revisiting, and the highlights of Rebeca Nalty's colors really make the panels pop for this issue.

But this was no mere eye-candy comic. Jordie Bellaire has set up an adventure/mystery that brings Vampirella -- still a newcomer to Earth at that time -- to Russia, to investigate a decade-old mass killing that may or may not have been the work of a Yeti. Since the story is set nearly fifty years ago, Vampirella has to do the investigating without the benefit of the Internet, which is not only a refreshing read but must also be a challenge to write. Writing it this well is a testament to Bellaire's writing chops, and I look forward to more from him.


Gail Simone's Death-Defying Devil is "Lost"

Death-Defying Devil 2

In Gail Simone's debut issue of Dynamite Comics' DEATH-DEFYING DEVIL, we thought the almight Devil had been depowered, brought down to earth, and made into a street-level hero of the people. The Devil had come to the defense of a motley crew of residents of a ramshackle house who had been beset by street thugs and corrupt cops, and he had gotten his ass handed to him handily.

With the second issue, we get a little more of the curtain pulled back. The Devil is still in the house--drinking tea and eating coffee cake with the elderly former actress turned crazy cat lady. When he learns that she doesn't go to the market any longer for fear of the street gang members always waiting to pounce, he very gallantly offers her escort. And when the inevitable attack comes, he defends.

And that's when things get weird.


Block Chains and The Mary Sue’s Ethical Quagmire

Eyes Covered

ComicsGate and GamerGate. The boogeymen that allow the geek and nerd communities to partake in outrage culture continues to be the gift that keeps on giving in that regard, despite the fact that most of the world has forgotten what GamerGate was about (for which Zoe Quinn is no doubt grateful) and ComicsGate exists now largely as a hashtag to market the ideology behind the comics they produce and, yes, deliver.

Not that this stops Anthony Gramuglia, writer at large. In a recent piece for The Mary Sue, Gramuglia conducts “interviews” with a handful of people with axes to grind. The Spectre of Hate is raised more than once, and the fearmongering goes into high gear in order to gin up the clicks. He expands his reach from ComicsGate to the more recent AnimeGate, spun out of accusations against DragonballZ: Broly actor, Vic Mignogna, and the resulting defamation suit that followed.


Kid Crowdfunding Comics: Pillowman and Blanketboy

Pillowman and Blanketboy

When I was in first grade, I wrote my first play. At a school assembly, I saw that play come to life, thanks to the support of my teacher.

In eighth grade, we had to turn in a paper every week on any topic. I turned in episodic chapters of a monster adventure, and my teacher set aside time for it to be read, by the author, to other classes.

Mrs. Joanne Paul and Mr. Stanley White cultivated those early efforts, allowing me to realize the dream of becoming a professionally published artist.

Parker Davis is an eleven-year-old boy with a dream. Since the age of three, he has been expanding the universe of his own superhero creations: Pillowman and Blanketboy. And thanks to the advent of crowdfunding, he's close to seeing those heroes star in a published comic book.


Vampirella's Second Issue Beautiful to Look At, Impossible to Follow

Vampirella 50 Years #2

There's been a lot of hubbub and hullabaloo over the 50th anniversary celebration of Dynamite Comics' VAMPIRELLA. Getting Christopher priest onto the writing chores and having him backed up by Ergun Gunduz in the art department set expectations pretty high.

And while this new iteration of VAMPIRELLA has some intense scenes, and plays with some interesting notions and aspects of her life, all set to some absolutely brilliant and lush panel work from Gunduz, I can't help but feel that I'm jumping around to random pages from different stories.

When we closed out the first issue, Vampirella walked away from a plane crash, and we then see her baring her soul to some bizarre psychologist. In the last panels, we meet Vampirella's mother, Lilith.


Sons of Chaos a Lushly Illustrated Look at Ottoman War

Sons of Chaos hardcover

The average  person today, when asked about Greek history, will probably recall the days of Plato and Socrates -- as though the country leapt straight from the days of philosophical and mathematical breakthroughs and went straight into the 21st century.

So when I read that SONS OF CHAOS was about the Greek war for independence, I was at a loss. When did Greece belong to someone else? When did this war occur?

Surprisingly, the war was relatively recent, as historical epochs go: the 1800s, in fact. When, you know, there actually was an America, so the fact that I did not know about this is a bit embarrassing. However, when it was explained that this was one of the wars of the Ottoman Empire, that, at least, was something I had heard of, so I felt a little better.


For Comics Fun, Monster M.D. May Be Just What the Doctor Ordered

Monster MD preview

Dr. Wyatt Black has an unusual practice. Actually, the practice is quite normal -- he's a medical doctor. Doctor Black's patients, on the other hand, are far from normal. Many of them are beyond the pale (and, sometimes, beyond the veil). And they usually aren't the kind who can make an appointment to come into his office.

Fortunately, Dr. Black makes crypt calls.


Family Feud: Van Helsing vs Dracula's Daughter

Van Helsing vs. Dracula's Daughter

Throughout the course of her career, Liesel Van Helsing has run up against her share of foul creatures. But now she may have met her equal, in a battle that has been generations in coming.

When her safe house is burgled, Liesel finds herself on a two-week tear through the city, following clues and taking out demons while trying to recover that which was lost.

But while the thief has a personal connection to the stolen property, Liesel herself finds herself serendipitously in the possession of a lost family artifact when she busts up a demon-run fencing operation.

The titular conflict of VAN HELSING VS. DRACULA'S DAUGHTER doesn't quite happen in this first issue, but that doesn't mean either lady isn't in the thick of it. While Van Helsing has her hands full of hellspawn, her future opponent is making herself known to two of Liesel's friends -- visiting newlyweds, Jonathan and Mina Harker!


Blood in Riverdale: Red Sonja and Vampirella Meet Betty and Veronica #3

Red Sonja Vampi BandV 3

Once upon a time, Riverdale was Main Street USA -- the perfect place, frozen in a perfect time. But for the past several years, the home town of Archie Andrews has become a magnet for violence and horror -- and the fans are eating it up!

The latest is this jointly-licensed property through Dynamite Comics, RED SONJA AND VAMPIRELLA MEET BETTY AND VERONICA. When the She-Devil with a Sword and the Darling of Draculon chase a chaos cultist thorugh dimensions, they are brought to Riverdale, where they must go undercover as high school students. Holy 21 Jump Street, Batman! Fortunately, they have some help blending in -- which is even harder than you might think -- with the assistance of Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge, who are just as keen to find the serial killer who has been plaguing the Riverdale Police Department.


Gail Simone Brings the Death-Defying Devil Back to Street Level

Death-Defying Devil #1

The last time I saw the Death-Defying Devil in Dynamite Comics, he was a spirit on the level of The Spectre, able to stride down the street while looking over skyscrapers. Quite a leap from his time as Daredevil (yes, that's his real name, much like Shazam's real name is Captain Marvel, and like Captain Marvel he also had the name first), when he fought in the streets and had a band of feistly little kids as his entourage.

Well he doesn't have the entourage, but he's definitely back down to street level in this newest series, DEATH-DEFYING DEVIL, by Gail Simone and Walter Geovani.


Roman Dirge's Lenore Returns with New Number 1 Issue

Lenore 1 2019

When I read that this was the first LENORE issue in five years, my first thought was, "Gosh, I must have read a reprint, because I know it was only just a few months ago when I reviewed LENORE." So I looked up the review. And I looked at the date.

Tempus fugit. Which is Latin for "Life comes at you fast." The hip Roman kids used to carve #TEMPUSFUGIT on the columns of the coliseum.

So for the past five years, Lenore -- the cute little dead girl -- has been holed up in her home with her demon friend Pooty, trying not to get eaten by an insane pickle hat (not a typo) just waiting for them to open the door. Needless to say, she's very hungry now. But food will come in some of the most unexpected places.


Jody Houser: Taking the New Doctor Who Through All Time and Space

All of time and space? Something for your bucket list--especially if you get to travel it in the company of the immortal Doctor Who. Over the show's fifty-plus year history, the regenerating Doctor (a plot device used to cover the change of actors as the show progressed) has gone through a number of unusual and dramatic changes. But none have been more dramatic than when we met the Thirteenth Doctor, when former Doctor, Peter Capaldi, ended his tenure on the show giving way to Jodie Whittaker, the first time we have seen the Doctor regenerate as a woman (even though we knew it was possible, when the Doctor's longtime foe, the Master, regenerated as "Missy").


Ikari Press's Brand Has Trouble Picking a Plot

Brand 1

BRAND is one of many new independent comics coming from the crowdfunding trend that has grown up over the past two years. The brainchild of writer Antonio Brice and artist Caanan White, the comic book is mostly impeccably drawn and colored, and each individual scene is compelling in its narrative.

It's when looking at the book as a whole where things suffer.


ROM: DIRE WRAITHS Miniseries Reveals the Terrifying Truth of the Moon Landing

ROM Dire Wraiths

SAN DIEGO, CA (July 25, 2019) – IDW Publishing is proud to debut Rom: Dire Wraiths, a three-part comic book miniseries about Earth’s incomparable heroes – the astronauts whose mission among the stars brought them face-to-face with the Dire Wraiths, the shape-shifting scourge of the universe!


Boy Bond: Get to Know the Famed Double-0 From the Ground Up

James Bond Origin V1

Ian Fleming's MI-5 agent James Bond has thrilled and chilled readers and moviegoers for decades. But despite all that history, how well does anyone truly know the man?

Jeff Parker and Bob Quinn team up through Dynamite Comics to give us a Bond we've never seen before; a Bond who could be both shaken and stirred, far from infallible, hardly smooth, but very much showing that diamond in the rough quality that makes him a candidate for a new type of defense program.

When we meet Bond, he is only 17, growing up in a Britain beseiged by Nazi blitzkreigs. A student, he teaches judo on the side, and befriends a German professor who knew his mother from their years at school together. But when the professor is attacked and killed, James takes the initiative to track down the men behind it, causing him to miss his train for a class outing.


More of Red Sonja's Formative Years Revealed in Birth of the She-Devil #2

Red Sonja Birth of the She-Devil 2

Luke Lieberman and Sergio Davila continue adding to the idylls of Red Sonja with this second issue of BIRTH OF THE SHE-DEVIL.

On the hunt for Raka, the man who took her childhood friend Shoshanna, Sonja finds herself reunited with her foster father, Ozzyus, who has information on Raka's last known location. The reunion is far from a happy one, however, and with the flashbacks to Sonja's childhood in this the reader comes to an understanding of why she harbors such animosity toward Ozzyus -- and how it involves Shoshanna's fate!


Avellone's Crisis on Infinite Betties Continues at Dynamite

Bettie Page Unbound 2

David Avallone and Julius Ohta are taking the iconic Bettie Page to places she has never been before -- alternate worlds, alternate dimensions, and ultimately alternate Betties, as she races against time to stop Yog-Sothoth and the Elder Gods from invading our dimension and bringing about the end of...well, pretty much everything.

Fortunately, there's a key to stopping this invasion. More precisely, there are five keys, spread across five different dimensions. Bettie has acquired two of them, having picked up the second key in the first issue of this miniseries, where she found herself embodying a she-devil with a sword. Now she finds herself on a new planet, in a form where she's even stronger and stranger--a fanged vampire woman who can sprout wings and kick ass!

Oh yeah, and she's kind of hungry. For blood.


Zoetrope Introduces Thumbelina to Grimm Fairy Tale Universe with 2019 Swimsuit Edition

GFT Swimsuit Edition 2019

Gather round, children, while grandpa tells you about this thing comics used to do way back in the 1990s called Swimsuit Editions. Taking a page from Sports Illustrated, these annual books were a showcase for artists new and established to show off what they could do with the company's character by giving them the chance to do a full page shot of them at their sexiest. Marvel did it. Image did it. Omaha the Cat Dancer did it, and she was usually naked in her book so this was a step up in wardrobe. (Don't just take our word for it. ComicVine has a pretty good collection of these gems.)


Charlie's Angels vs. The Bionic Woman a Brilliant Idea, Poorly Executed

Charlie's Angels vs. Bionic Woman

When it comes to licensed properties, Dynamite Comics is the king, having had success with MARS ATTACKS, VAMPIRELLA, RED SONJA, THE EVIL DEAD, and many others.

But for whatever reason, CHARLIE'S ANGELS is cursed.

The first miniseries was something less than a train wreck. A train wreck, because it was a horrible mess; something less than because even a train wreck will keep your attention.

Now there's what should be a sure-fire hit--the collision of two potentially great licensed properties. Collision is the write word because, once again, train wreck. But I have to try it, because it's CHARLIE'S ANGELS VS. THE BIONIC WOMAN. Not "meets," but "versus." Which basically pits three well-trained fighters against a superpowered heroine who has fought off small armies.


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