Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Defenders - TV Review

   I've watched the first two episodes of the new Netflix series Marvel's The Defenders, and so far it's a terrific achievement. 

   I think Marvel's brain trust has been brilliant, using the same concept they used with The Avengers - to introduce each hero individually in separate series, and team them up in this series.

   The series brings together the heroes from the four existing Marvel / Netflix series - Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist - to tackle a menace too big for any single hero.

   Each character gets (more or less) equal treatment, and they're an interesting mix of earnest and powerful (Iron Fist, played by Finn Jones), troubled but dedicated (Daredevil, played by Charlie Cox), a streetwise hero trying to make a difference (Luke Cage, played by Mike Colter), and a troubled spitfire whose heart is in the right place whether she wants to admit it or not (Jessica Jones, played by Krysten Ritter).

   There's a nice mystery building behind the villain (wonderfully played by Sigourney Weaver), a big menace to New York (and points beyond) and yes, the first time two of the heroes meet, they fight. (It's a beloved tradition with Marvel.)

   The action scenes are well staged and entertaining, the photography and special effects are excellent, and the music is perfect (it changes depending on which character is in the spotlight).

   The series is building nicely on the individual series and includes most of the excellent supporting cast from each one, and the interaction between the heroes is a lot of fun (although to be fair, that's just starting to kick in with episode two).

   It's not necessary to have seen the previous series to enjoy this one, but it isn't really for young kids - it gets intense and there's some adult language (mostly from Jessica).

   The series shows the strength of "team stories." A single character can be almost silly, using superpowers (or wearing a costume) in the real world. But bring several together and it gives the story more gravitas - and each character can show their strengths, bouncing off each other.

   Highly recommended!

Grade: A




Friday, August 18, 2017

Future Quest Presents Space Ghost #1

   It's great to see Space Ghost back in action in this follow-up to the excellent Future Quest series.

   This time around, writer Jeff Parker gives us a look behind the curtain at the origins of Space Ghost and the Space Patrol, including the reasons why he teams up with Jan and Jayce (still no explanation for Blip) and the source of his powers.

   The issue also features the Herculoids (another fave) with some history behind that team / family, and why their pets / allies have such varied powers.

   One thing this series has enjoyed is some terrific art - no doubt many artists are also fans and are eager to work on these classic characters.

   This issue features Ariel Olivetti's painted artwork, and it's a real delight, breathing flesh and blood into these two-dimensional creations.

   The series is managing a nice balance between nostalgia and crafting a story that stands on its own and lays the groundwork for future adventures.


Grade: A


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Dark Nights: Metal #1

   I was planning to skip this event, for two reasons: it looks very dark, which gets a big "eh" out of me; and I'm definitely feeling event fatigue.

   But then I saw the spoilers about a certain character showing up, one who hasn't been seen in quite a few years - and I caved. (Since we don't do spoilers on this site, I won't be naming that character for you - but the rest of the Internet is happy to fill that need.)

   So I can tell you that Dark Nights: Metal lives up to my expectations - and exceeds them in some ways.

   Yes, it's certainly dark, as Batman continues to explore an ancient mystery around the threat of a Dark Universe and the Metal that is somehow connected to it and the superpowers in the world.

   On the plus side, the story references (or includes) quite a number of characters who've been largely ignored for some time now, including Hawkman, the Blackhawks and the Challengers of the Unknown (though they only play small parts so far).

   The story also offers some new insights into the DC Universe, with threads about immortals, Hawkman's Ninth Metal and competing tribes dating back to the dawn of mankind.

   But it's also a bit muddy, as we get flashes of story without a clear idea as to where it's all going. What did the opening adventure with the Justice League have to do with the rest of it? Since when do the Blackhawks involve themselves with mysticism? What's up with the mysterious new landmark in Gotham?

   We trust, of course, that we'll get answers in the issues to come, but the series isn't giving us much to go on - I have to think that new readers would struggle to make sense of this.

Grade: B+


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

New Comics Day!

   Here's what I picked up at the comics shop today:

- NEIL GAIMAN AMERICAN GODS SHADOWS #6 (Dark Horse) - Rally the gods!

- ASTRO CITY #46 (DC) - The musical finale!

- BATMAN: METAL #1 (DC) - I was going to pass on this, then heard about the special guest star.

- CAVE CARSON HAS A CYBERNETIC EYE #11 (DC) - Who can stop The Whisperer?

- FUTURE QUEST PRESENTS #1 (DC) - Space Ghost and the Herculoids!

- INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #10 (Marvel) - Riri versus fake Tony!

- JUSTICE LEAGUE #27 (DC) - The children of the JL!

- MAGE HERO DENIED #1 (OF 15) - The hero returns!

- SANDMAN SPECIAL #1 (DC) - Return of Kirby's dreamer!

- SILVER SURFER #13 (Marvel) - Once upon a time...

- MIGHTY THOR #22 (Marvel) - Everything burns!

   And I received these review copies:

- AMERIKARATE #5 (Action Lab Danger Zone) - Martial arts action!

- BLOOD BOWL MORE GUTS MORE GLORY #3 (OF 4) (Titan) - The title says it all!

- DIVINITY #0 (Valiant) - A god on Earth!

- DOCTOR WHO 10TH YEAR THREE #8 (Titan) - Gabby has strange new powers!


- HERCULES WRATH OF THE HEAVENS #1 (Titan) - The legend returns in a futuristic setting!

- INFINITE SEVEN #6 (Action Lab Danger Zone) A night on the town!

- LOLA XOXO VOL 2 #2 (Aspen) - Most post-apocalyptic adventures!

- NORMANDY GOLD #3 (Titan) - Can Normandy survive this investigation?

- SECRET WEAPONS #3 (OF 4) (Valiant) - Can the team work together?

- WARHAMMER 40000 DAWN OF WAR III #2 (OF 4) (Titan)

   And that's it!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Classics - Brave and the Bold #49

   One of the joys in thumbing through a box of old comics is finding a true oddity - and that's what I stumbled onto during a recent trip to a local comics shop.

   When I came across this issue of The Brave and the Bold, I immediately fell in love.

   The cover, depicting a gorilla dressed in a baseball uniform and sliding into third base, just beating the throw, put an immediate smile on my face.

   Of course, this is one of the Strange Sports Stories issues. That short-lived series was the brainstorm of editor Julius Schwartz, who enjoyed tossing in occasional sports references (which is why the Justice Society became the Justice League - he figured kids could relate because of football and baseball leagues).

   The issue is drawn by the great Carmine Infantino (did anyone draw a better gorilla?), and features two sports / science fiction tales.

   The first features an experiment in Africa that creates intelligent gorillas, a group that suddenly takes an interest in baseball. And their team is unbeatable, thanks to their superior strength. But what is the dark secret behind their love of baseball?

   The second story is set far in the future, and involves a group of athletes using their unique skills in the game Spaceball to stop an alien invasion (no relation to the Mel Brooks movie).

   It's an entertaining issue with some fun twists, amazing art and, best of all, a gorilla on the cover! Who could pass it up?

   Not me!

Grade: B+


Monday, August 14, 2017

Anno Dracula #5 (of 5)

   While I'm not a huge fan of vampire stories, there are certainly exceptions, like Marvel's Tomb of Dracula - and now you can add Anno Dracula to the list.

   Based on the novel by Kim Newman, it's an alternate history where Dracula has taken control of Great Britain, and various forces - supernatural and otherwise - plot his destruction.

   The series has a dark, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen vibe to it, and readers can have fun identifying classic fictional characters who take part in this story, along with quite a few original creations.

    With terrific art by Paul McCaffrey and Bambos Georgiou and a haunting, horror-tinged story, loaded with unexpected twists, this is a powerful series.

   Highly recommended - even if you're not crazy about vampires!

Grade: A-


Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Defenders - TV Trailer

   NetFlix has released the final trailer for the upcoming series Marvel's The Defenders - and I have to say, it looks like a lot of fun. (Warning, this trailer includes a naughty word.)