Friday, December 18, 2015

REVIEW: Daredevil #1

Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Ron Garney
Color Artist: Matt Milla

When Marvel first dropped the list of their post Secret Wars books I had a real hard time caring about most of them. Not for any particular reason really. I knew right off that there was no way I could afford every book with their four to five dollar price tags, but that’s nothing new as Marvel can really crank the titles out. The X-Men and Avengers books pretty much went straight to the chopping block along with the new Inhumans book; I did however pull one super-team book in Guardians of the Galaxy. Great decision by the way. I passed on the new Hulk book too because the title makes me cringe and honestly if it’s not Banner, then I don’t care. I went with the new Venom book because I love Venom and I don’t care who is wearing it. I added Carnage because . . . Carnage. Howard the Duck’s novelty ran out for me after a couple issues of his last series. All the Spidey related books were a given except the Web Warriors because no . . . just no. There were a few wildcards that I was undecided on . . . Black Knight, Hercules, Scarlet Witch, and Daredevil. The owner of my LCS sold me on Hercules. I decided to go with Daredevil. I’ve always liked the character, and it had been a good while since I had read any DD books. Turns out my wildcard picks were spot on. I’ve found Hercules pretty entertaining and DD didn’t disappoint me either.

Friday, December 11, 2015

REVIEW: Hercules #1 & 2

Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Luke Ross
Review: William R. Davis, Jr.

Marvel is pretty self aware of where their flagship titles fall, and so apparently is writer Dan Abnett. Hercules is now an immortal with an all-new identity crisis, attempting to find a way to be useful in a modern world that has forgotten the heroes and villains of mythology. It is an interesting take on the superhero, but not a new one. Silver Surfer was well known for dealing in self-reflective, philosophical meanderings, and Geoff Johns recently wrote some issues of Aquaman that poked fun at his B-List status.

Personally, my taste in comics would prefer the high fantasy approach, but I may be the only one I know still reading Conan the Barbarian, so there’s that. Take comfort in knowing that Peter Jackson is still doing his best to ruin the genre for everyone, and Thor in its current format is completely unrecognizable from the Thor we all used to know and love. It could still be the mainstream answer we’re looking for if the trend of re-launching entire universes continues to sell books, but there are a lot of “What ifs” and speculation in that scenario. Dark Horse is the only publisher with a pure contribution, doing a great job with the Conan series despite lack of readership. It should be able to whet your appetite a bit until the inevitable great resurgence. Perchance to dream, anyway. Current comic book fantasy genre prognosis: dismal.

Friday, December 4, 2015

REVIEW: Huck #1

Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
Colorist: Dave McCaig
Review: Art Bee

Lately it seems I can’t find a bad comic to review. December is no exception, but I will try to find one next time to smear against the wall. This month I was thrown a title from Image called Huck. The name made several images race through my head and almost all of them involved some back-country character. Guess what? My dart is in the green circle. That’s right, a dart board reference.

This is nothing less than a jewel from Mark Millar and is one of his classic hook-setting first issues. Please don’t think me a fan boy of Millar. I respect his work, but many of his efforts do not get deposited in my comic folder each month. Huck might just be the first one to which I will subscribe (let the hate mail commence,

Friday, November 20, 2015

REVIEW: Klaus #1 (of 6)

Written by: Grant Morrison
Illustrated by: Dan Mora
Review: Will Dubbeld

So I hear Grant Morrison is writing Santa Claus' origin story, which is absolutely insane if you stop and think about it. On the other hand, an equally logical response is, "well of course Wacky Grant is writing a Santa Claus origin story, that makes perfect sense."

So clearly I preordered it. My love/hate relationship with Grant Morrison compels me to try out almost everything Grant writes, as I have clearly failed a Will Save vs. his Chaos Magics.
That's clever on a couple levels, folks . . .

Friday, November 13, 2015

REVIEW: The Amazing Spider-Man #1-3

Writer: Don Slott
Penciler: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inker: Cam Smith
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Review: Madman

First off, level the plane out . . . Secret Wars Part Deuce is over and we survived, although the MU . . . not so much. Things are so mixed up and coo-coo bonkers over at Marvel right now. Everything you thought you knew, everything you loved in the continuity of your super friends has gone the way of the buffalo. That’s right, ‘tis no more . . . aaannnnd I hate it already. Maybe I’m just old school? Maybe, just maybe, I’m being a hater? The fact is I’m sick and tired of the Big Two rebooting every other week. I get that they do it, because it brings in the $$ and puts the comic n00b on the same level as the veteran reader as far as long term knowledge goes. Screw that! Write quality works and spare us the $6 first issues. At a certain age the cute sassy little kid turns into a real annoying jerk. So I shelled out the $6 because . . . Spider-Man . . . Marvel . . . Never a question, but for $6 someone is getting my opinion.

So the whole deal is Spidey’s gone global . . . oh yay. The first panel of the first page is Parker showing off his fancy computer watch, while in a commercial for Parker Industries’ tech , and he says “With great power . . . comes greater speed, storage, and battery life”. Yep. Told you I hated it.

The 2nd page opens with a high-speed car chase through the streets of Shanghai. In the rabbit car we have members from the Leo Sect of Zodiac’s forces. In the pursuit car . . . er, umm, pursuit Spidermobile . . . we find Spider-Man and Mockingbird. I dig Mockingbird. I do not dig the Spider-Car. It looks ridiculous, and it’s tacky as hell. Things get worse. It sticks to walls and at one point it actually transforms into a giant flying spider . . . that’s right. It would appear it grows legs and flies. I told you I hated it. The rest of the comic goes as you can imagine. Spidey and Mockingbird beat up the bad guys with their Spider-Tech, and then we get invited to the marriage of Max Modell and his partner Hector. The book goes on and Spidey tussles with Zodiac some more, and then the strangest thing happens: the cover’s promise of an “oversized and action packed first issue” evaporates into thin air as I realize that by “overstuffed” Marvel means full of gratuitous teasers for every other Spider-Person book Marvel is dropping. Yay. I hate it.

So far my previous doubts are justified. I hate the addition of all the tech. I hate how Peter has totally become Tony Stark. I hate it. I hated just about everything about this first issue except Mockingbird. I dig Mockingbird.

Issue 2

First off this issues cover was as bad as the cover to the first issue. They both are very turn-offish for me. Alex Ross, you have failed this city.

I’m really bummed about this new Spider-Stark concept. This issue continues to push the topic of Peter relying more and more on his fancy new tech. Ya see, two issues in and The Zodiac has already stolen Pete’s personal Super-Spider-Tech-Watch and of course the world will end if the good guys can’t retrieve it. The good guys being Spider-Man (who is posing as Peter Parker’s bodyguard . . . ), the Prowler (who dresses up as Spider-Man when Spidey and Peter need to be seen together . . . ), and Fury-n-Mockingbird are still in play.

Now if you liked the Spidermobile wait until you see the Spider-Sub . . . yeah, that’s right. I said it. I wish I hadn’t, but I had to. The sub has some super-awesome super-spider tech that allows it to project a hologram allowing it to appear as something it’s not. Such as turning into a humpback whale. As dumb as that sounds, Slott felt that triumph was worthy of a flashback of Parker telling Fury his Spider-Sub makes a mean Humpback whale. That happened. The Spider and the Prowler roll up on the super-secret super-bad guy hideout somewhere in the bottom of the ocean and win. They retrieve Parker’s stolen Skynet Rolex but not before Zodiac can send Parker’s encrypted data to every super-secret Zodiac base on the globe. Oh no! Whatever will our heroes do? Just kidding, Fury is on it. They trace all the emails and now S.H.I.E.L.D and our heroes can take the fight to Zodiac . . . hopefully in a super lame Spider-boat or Web-Copter, or maybe on the Spider-Vespa . . .

Have I mentioned I hate this Parker Tech business? I get a strange feeling that all this b.s. is going to unleash some super AI or something along those lines. Face it, no matter how much you dress Parker up he’s going to screw things up royally. Oh, he’ll no doubt save the day at the last possible minute as he tends to do. Slott, please I’m begging you . . . just give me a good ol’ fashioned Spider-Man vs. The Spot arc, and we’ll let bygones be bygones. No harm done.

This is the part where I call Camuncoli out for flat out ripping off Ryan Browne of God Hates Astronauts fame. Just as Spider-Man and the Prowler make it into the super-secret super-bad guy hideout is when it happens . . . a man with a crab for a head. I don’t care that his code name is Cancer. He has a crab for a head. That’s Ryan Browne right there. How many people can think up guys with a crab for a head? Busted, Marvel. Write that man a check. Saw it here first. I’m debating not reading issue #3 in protest. Just kidding . . . I’m going to read it.

Issue #3

At first glance this cover is much, much better, especially with the Human Torch blazing his way across the sky. Boy, I sure do enjoy a Torch/Spidey team up. I believe that’s pretty much a requirement for all Spider-Man fans. A lot of history there. I do feel the need to express my displeasure about the fact that Spider-Man’s symbol on his chest appears to glow now . . . I hate it. Maybe this whole ASM volume is really just a flashback back to sometime around Demon in a Bottle, and Stark is just having a "What If?" kind of drunken hallucination . . . please?

Peter Parker has bought the Baxter Building, and this angers Human Torch. So much so that he and Parker battle it out for a few at the beginning of the book. After the two call a truce Spider-Man takes his buddy on a tour of the new and improved Baxter Building. During said tour we learn that Harry Osborn (now known as Harry Lyman) is running the day to day of the building . . . ok. As the tour passes by Johnny’s room he goes inside to take a peek. It turns out Johnny’s old room is now the new Spider-Garage . . . huh. I know I was totally joking during the bit about all the super lame Spider-Vehicles (except the Spider-Car and Spider-Sub those are totally real . . . with pictures and everything) the last issue, but Johnny Storm made my worst fears a reality when he opened his old bedroom door. We got the new Spider-Mobile, the Spider-Skimmer, Spider-Copter, and Spider-Cycle, just to name a few. This is straight up torture. I hate it.

In other news, The Zodiac attack S.H.I.E.L.D's heli-carrier (which by issue #4 will be named the Spider-Carrier). The main crew of Zodiac reminds me of Battle Beasts and that pleases me. Zodiac puts a real beatdown on Fury and his minions and get away. All the while Peter, Johnny, and Harry are out at the bar drinking nonalcoholic cocktails.

On the last page we are teased with a last panel glimpse of a man in green and purple camo with a bandaged up head that is being identified as . . . Mr. Osborn. Sigh. Too soon. I hate it.

So there it is, as a life long Spidey fan I will honestly say I hate this new run. I hate it. My desire to continue reading this title is rapidly fading. Maybe Spidey and I have come as far as we were meant to come. I have a rule: never abandon a title until the 5th issue. I figure if you can’t make me want to read your comic by issue #5 then you never will, so ASM has until issue 5 to fix my Spider-Man or our love affair is over. After all, I can get my Spider-Person fix from one of the many Spider-titles out there, and to be perfectly honest there are a lot of GOOD comics coming out by way of Image and other independent creators. So far this is book is the biggest let down of the year and that’s a damn shame.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


It seems like yesterday I walked in my local LCS and asked the store owner to recommend a graphic novel that was a “must read”. That book was The Surrogates, and at C2E2 I paid forward that recommendation and bought the entire HCB staff a copy. Getting the opportunity to briefly chat with the creator of this book and so many other quality titles is truly an honor.

Robert Venditti is the New York Times best-selling author of The Homeland Directive and the groundbreaking graphic novel series The Surrogates, which has since been adapted into a feature film starring Bruce Willis. He currently writes for both DC Comics and Valiant, writing four ongoing monthly titles: X-O Manowar, Green Lantern, The Flash, and Wrath of the Eternal Warrior. His debut novel, Miles Taylor and the Golden Cape: Attack of the Alien Horde, was released by Simon & Shuster in June 2015.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

REVIEW: Judges #1 - 3

Writer: Ben Miller
Artist: Cory Hamscher
Colors: Sean Forney
Review: Art Bee

Anyone calling themselves a comic enthusiast has to love comic conventions, the small ones as well as the big. Smaller cons are actually where you will find those rare stories that you won’t find at most local stores. Many great comic writers and artists can barely afford to pay for a table at a smaller convention, so larger ones like SDCC and NYCCC are just a goal for them. A comic enthusiast at a small convention, like Kokomocon ( my local area, can dive in and find a great story to get behind.

Two years ago I met Chris Charlton of Assailant Comics at Kokomocon and have been following a few of his stories since. This year I had the pleasure of meeting Ben Miller, the writer of Judges. While talking to him, the book’s artwork jumped right out at me. Hamscher has a wickedly distinct flow to his drawing that screams action.

Monday, October 19, 2015

REVIEW: Weirdworld #1

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Mike Del Mundo
Review: Will Dubbeld

Ah, Secret War. The Marvel Zombies amongst the HCB need no explanation and the rest of the lot are probably aware of the event via osmosis.
Not to bore the reader base (or myself) with the minutiae of the event, the condensed version is as follows:
Multiverse destroyed, Dr. Doom gets godlike power, salvages bits & pieces of Multiverse and crams them together to form a patchwork planet called Battleworld.
In the wake, Marvel is pumping out what seems like several hundred dozen thousand miniseries highlighting corners of Battleworld, as one does.

Mileage may vary on these, but I've been pleased more than not with the results. Chiefly amongst these is Weirdworld.
Originally a 1970s fantasy comic by creative team Mike Ploog and Doug Moench, writer Jason Aaron mined the Weirdworld name for a new fantasy title starring Arkon of Polemachus, a semi-esoteric other-dimensional warlord best known for sometimes tussling with the Avengers.
The Secret Wars incarnation of Arkon sees the warrior searching the length and breadth of Weirdworld for a way back to his kingdom of Polemachus. Jason Aaron's interpretation of Weirdworld is nothing short of spectacular, and he seems as enamored with Marvel's esoterica as I. This miniseries so far has bestowed upon we reading public the following:
  • -Morgan le Fay, dragon-riding baroness of Weirdworld and her army of Lava Men
  • -Skull the Slayer. Google him.
  • -an underwater ape city called Apelantis.
  • -Warbow, from 1983s seminal classic The Saga of Crystar, Crystal Warrior. God bless you, Jason Aaron. God bless you . . .
  • -and not to be outdone, in issue 4, a swamp full of Man-Things.
You heard right. Man-Things.

Sidebar, your honor:
Loyal readers may or may not be familiar with my deep, abiding love for shambling vegetable monsters. Swamp Thing, Man-Thing, The Heap, hell, I'll even settle for a Glob or two. So when I heard about a whole swamp full of Man-Things, I could hardly contain myself...

Indeed, after having a hearty tussle with Skull the Slayer, Arkon finds himself trapped in the murky swamp, surrounded by Man-Things. He and Skull attempt to fight off the muck monsters, but are paralyzed and taken before the Queen of the Man-Things.

You guys, this book . . .

The Swamp Queen, revealed to be this realms interpretation of Jennifer Kale, wages a guerrilla war against Morgan le Fay and I don't know if I can adequately express my love for this book. It's just chock full of arcane characters from the dusty corners of the Marvel Universe and plotted like it could have been a sword-and-sandals fantasy VHS from the 1980s
And I mean one of the really good ones, like The Warrior & the Sorceress. Or Deathstalker. The Barbarians, maybe...

Anywho, tormented by visions of an inverted Polemachus in flames and beset by Man-Things, our hero Arkon snatches his quiver of lightning bolts (you read that correctly) and makes good his escape.
Will he find his way back home?
Will Morgan le Fay catch up to our hero?
Will The Orb show up?
Does whatever knows fear burn at the touch of the Man-Thing?

All these questions and more answered in issue 5.

This comic is boatloads of fun, ladies and gentlemen. The subject matter is right in Jason Aaron's wheelhouse. A free for all fantasy-adventure book featuring some of the Mortiest of the Morts seems to really be the perfect vehicle for Aaron to tell a great story.
Still waiting for The Orb to show up...

Mike del Mundo is absolutely murdering it on the art detail, seamlessly dovetailing his art with Jason Aaron's writing. The art's got an almost ethereal, dreamlike quality that lends itself perfectly to the surreal nature of Weirdworld.
Marco D'Alfonso pitches in on color detail with del Mundo and the result is an impressive, soft palette that further enhances the trip down Weirdworld's rabbit hole.

My biggest problem with Weirdworld is the fact that only one issue remains. On the bright side there's been announced a post-Secret War Weirdworld title starring the Black Knight (hopefully sporting a leather jacket and wielding a lightsaber), but we'll have to see if the new creative team can capture that near-lightning in a bottle dynamic that Jason Aaron and Mike del Mundo have.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

REVIEW: Dr Strange #1

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Chris Bachalo
Review: William R. Davis Jr.

The Marvel Universe is filled with infinite possibilities – infinite possibilities that are left unexplored far too often in my opinion. My favorite titles from the publisher have always been Silver Surfer, Dr. Strange, and The Fantastic Four (RIP), so my tastes definitely lie in the realm of fantasy and science fiction – books focusing on making the impossible possible. When Marvel does this well, their story arcs can rival any publisher in the medium of sequential art.

About a year ago I wrote a pretty vitriolic review of Silver Surfer. We all know that Mike Allred knows his way around a pen, but what left me disappointed was the wasted potential and the wannabe Whovian garbage after all of that anticipation from Dan Slott. Since issue one the book has found its legs to an extent, but I wanted to be the one to pen this review to see if Marvel could really speak to their hardcore fan base with their re-launch of Dr. Strange, and hopefully in some way make up for their Surfer sacrilege.

I have been a Dr. Strange fan for years, rummaging through stacks of hand me downs from my brother who may be the biggest Strange fan in the history of the world. Seriously. It’s true. Even at a young age I thought that “Sorcerer Supreme” sounded a bit like a Taco Bell value item, but other than that each issue was fuel for the imagination.

Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo are the perfect creative team to re-introduce Stephen Strange to the Marvel Universe. Starting with a backdrop that served as a great homage to Steve Ditko, issue one was non-stop action with a brief respite at a magician’s only pub that may have been my favorite part of the entire book.

Although Dr. Strange wields great power after his transformation from crippled surgeon to magical guru, his human flaws still remain keeping him grounded and searching for balance. While the “ladies man” trope used by Iron Man, Daredevil, and Dr. Strange tends to wear really thin, Aaron adds just enough to show human vice without being overly cringe worthy.

The fact that Bachalo pencils and inks his own books gives the issue a distinct feel that makes him a great fit. Stylistically he is a great choice for the re-launch. With an ominous warning at the end of issue one that left me wanting more, I for one am definitely excited to see where this series is headed. It is way too early to tell if Aaron and Bachalo are going to be able come to give us a run that could rival the fabled Brian K. Vaughn miniseries or Steve Ditko’s early work, but the first issue has given me hope that this new incarnation of Stephen Strange will be a welcome addition to the already rich legacy of Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme.

Friday, September 25, 2015

REVIEW: Dr1ve #1

Writer: Michael Benedetto
Pencils: Antonio Fuso
Inks: Emilio Lecce
Colors: Jason Lewis
Review: Cody "Madman" Miller

I don’t know why, but the first thing I thought of when I saw this cover was Miami Vice. The purple city skyline and lettering like a neon sign . . .
Don’t get me wrong here; I was by no means excited by this. I could give two shits about Don Johnson and his television program.

My second observation was that the guy looking through the review mirror has a strong resemblance to Bryan Cranston’s character Walter White at first glance. Thinking this made me think of John Goodman’s character Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski and that made me smile.

Calmer then you are.

Friday, September 18, 2015

REVIEW: Revelations #1-6 Tpb

Story: Paul Jenkins
Illustrations: Humberto Ramos
Colors: Leonardo Olea, Edgar Delgado, and Edgar Clement
Review: Art Bee

A couple of weeks ago when I stopped into Comic Cubed (Kokomo, Indiana), only two comics perched waiting for me in my subscription folder. Wanting more to read over the next week, I began to scan the wall of the current issues. Happily my stomach was empty, for the Marvel covers and titles made me retch. Seriously how wasted was the guy, whom first uttered “Battleworld”. Anyway, not finding anything to excite my eyeballs, I began looking at the trades and graphic novels. Seeing a few interesting ones, particularly Locke and Key, Shawn Hilton (Comic Cubed owner) suggested the trade paperback of the mini-series Revelations from BOOM! Studios. My skepticism was high as the story was based on the Catholic religion. Though I am not Catholic, I am a Christian and tend to stay away from comics that deal with the subject as I am not sure of their views on Christianity. It’s just my outlook.

Friday, September 11, 2015

REVIEW: Godzilla in Hell #2

Art & story: Bob Eggleton
Review: Will Dubbeld

With the exception of the god-awful 1998 movie, I tend to love all things Godzilla.
Kaiju in general, really. Gamera runs a close second in the race for rubber-suited Japanese men capturing my heart.
The original 1950s movie was actually a pretty legit piece of postwar Japanese cinema, but most of us really fell in love with Godzilla as a cipher for professional wrestling among giant monsters.
Probably on Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
Perhaps on KTMA in the Twin Cities.
Possibly as a sleepy-eyed dude and a couple of smartass robots cracked wise during the movie.
In any case, from renting Godzilla 1985 on VHS, to chasing down issues of the old Marvel Godzilla comic, to wishing I still had the cheap Godzilla toy that spat sparks from its mouth, it's safe to say he's been a fairly big part of my nerd life.

Friday, August 28, 2015

2015 Annual Hammy Awards

Another year is in the books for the HCB and that means it is time for the annual Hammy awards. This year I will be living vicariously through the HCB staff writers for I took my talents to mainland China over a year ago and am still here. China has many things, but one thing it does not have is comics or comic culture. As I find myself increasingly removed from the world of sequential art, more than ever I count on the boys in the trenches to keep me appraised of what is relevant and what to avoid. Here’s to all of their hard work, and to another year of an uncensored, critical look at the contemporary funny book.
- William R. Davis, Jr.

Madman's Picks:

Comic of the Year:
I must, in good conscience, give this to Manifest Destiny. MD has been my rock; it is consistently fantastic across the board. If you haven’t read the book, then you’re truly screwing yourself over royally.

Best Cover Art:
Manifest Destiny . . . no contest. Every single cover is frame worthy, every single one.

Best New Comic:
Copperhead. I called this after I read the first issue. Jay Faerber is easily on my list of top five current writers in the biz, he’s a true master of character development. I love me a good space western and Copperhead scratches that itch in all the hard to reach places.

Most Overrated:

Marvel mega events…no…please, just no. Fire everyone who had a hand in any of this crap.

Most Underrated:
God Hates Astronauts by Ryan Browne. The first 10 issue run from Image has just ended but hopefully there will be many more in the future. Each issue of this book is a hilarious adventure through insanity. The artwork is fantastic. The story is entertaining as hell and to be perfectly honest I have no idea what the actual plot is but that’s perfectly fine because it doesn’t matter. My favorite part of Browne’s work here is the way he does all his sound effects; they’re similar to the Adam West Batman sound effects but much more legit.

Most Disappointing:
What happened to The Walking Dead? Bueller? . . . Bueller? . . . anyone? Polishing the brass . . .

Most Likely to make you throw up in your mouth:
Island by way of Image. I paid $8 for this turd. Image puts out a lot of great comics but this thing was just plain butt mud.

Best Mini Series:
Veil from Dark Horse. I loved the creepy characters. Not sure if I’ve ever read anything other than Veil from Greg Rucka, but I want to. Toni Fejzula can pleasure my eyeholes any time he wants. Buy the trade…thank me later.

Worst Mini Series:
I’m throwing Spiderverse under the bus on this one. This abomination just seemed to drag on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on . . . some people started writing it not knowing what it was and they’ll continue writing it because this is the arc that never ends . . . some people started writing it not knowing what it was and they’ll continue writing it because this is the arc that never . . . and on and on. I hold Spider-Man above all other four color superstars but I just got sick of seeing so many alternate dumb ass versions of the web slinger. Except Spider-Ham. This I will allow, I love that guy.

Writer of the Year:
My man Jay Faerber gets my highest honor for his wordsmithing. Copperhead, I’m telling you.

Artist of the Year:
By default I should go with Fiona Staples because even if BKV let Saga’s writing slip for a bit, Fiona’s outstanding work on the art never faltered from absolutely best of what’s around. I bet she jams Eye of the Tiger while she works . . . maybe not. My non-default pick would be Ryan Browne, simply because of his hilarious, fresh, skill at drawing . . . everything. More cow head!

Art Bee's picks:

This has been a boring year in comics. We have watched the Big 2 take the majority of their product lines and flush them. The only saving grace for Marvel was starting the Star Wars line. They have definitely put Dark Horse’s work to shame in a very short time. Meanwhile Image continues to grow steadily and methodically.

Currently my pull list is absent of DC, 3 Marvel titles, and all the rest is Image.

Comic of the Year:
God Hates Astronauts vol. 2 is my pick, hands down, for the Hammy of Comic of the Year. Ryan Browne delivers great artwork and a surgical stitch busting dose of humor that would make a cow pie jump back up the anus that birthed it. Enough said.

Best Cover Art:
Marvel Star Wars #2 cover featuring Han and Chewie hiding behind debris, while Han is holding his finger in a “Shhh” sign. Meanwhile Darth Vader and dozens of storm troopers stand all around with AT-ATs looming over head. This cover is beautiful, funny, and catchy. People should have been drawn to it just to look at it closer.

I am just weak to anything Star Wars.

Best New Comic:
This Hammy in my opinion should go to Postal from Image. Brian Edward Hill delivers a unique storyline based on a completely original main character. Hill takes a leap of faith to deliver a griping and suspenseful story. Isaac Goodhart accompanies this with a fantastic display of drawings.

Most Overrated:
Death to Wolverine is the Most Overrated comic series in the last year. The covers were the best part in my opinion, and I almost chose one for Best Cover Art. I thought the death of one of the most loved super heroes was a mistake. Marvel seems to always have a way to undervalue the old for the new.

Most Underrated:
Wayward is the Most Underrated comic in my opinion. This series has really grown on me over the last year. Writer Jim Zub and Artist Steven Cummings have put together a gripping tale of super heroes of a different flavor. The Japanese culture and setting they use really adds to the mystery of the story. Also, at the end of each comic, space is used to educate the reader in Japanese mythology and other cultural information.

Most Disappointing Comic:
Secret Six from DC had a great first two issues. What happened? They waited too long for the third book, and we are still waiting on the fourth. It sounds to me like there is a commitment issue on the side of the creators, so they need to step up their work. They already lost me. I am not that patient.

Most Likely to Be Burned First for Heat in the Event of a Post Apocalyptic Earth “This is the End” Scenario AKA The Rob Liefeld:
Image produces a lot of great books. Apparently all the stories that don’t make the cut get sent to a deserted island to be left to die. Someone at Image decided to try to make a buck on this crap and published it for $8 as Island and dumped it in our laps. Thanks, guys. I promise to return the favor.

Best Miniseries:
Best Miniseries is the hardest for me to decide this year. There were so many good miniseries this past year. I pick would have to be Wildfire from Image. This short miniseries had me enthralled from first to last issue, and I am currently writing from a stage of stasis while I wait for volume two to be released this fall. As Tom Petty said it best, “waiting is the hardest part.”

Worst Miniseries:
Return of the Living Deadpool is a decrepit follow up of Night of the Living Deadpool, which was good in my opinion. Return of the Living Deadpool started off all wrong. Had this been a darts match, Marvel would have hit the metal separator and fallen to the floor.

Writer of the Year:
Artist of the Year:

My vote for Writer and Artist of the Year is one in the same, Ryan Browne. Call me biased if you like. This has been a major year for the independent comic creator. He went from self-published on his own site to being multi-nationally published by Image. Way to go, Mr. Ryan “launched to go nuclear on the world” Browne.

Will Dubbeld's picks:

Comic of the Year:
Star Wars. MF'N. STAR. WARS. I cut my teeth on Marvel's original SW comics and that was my original Expanded Universe. Dark Horse just didn't quite have the same punch with their adventures in a galaxy far, far away, so I was overjoyed when Marvel did right by me on this new series. Jason Aaron seems to understand the cadence of the Star Wars universe, and tossing John Cassady on art detail always guarantees a win. Kudos to all involved.
"Chewie, we're home."
Fuckin' A, Han. Fuckin' A...

Best Cover Art:
DC Comics Bombshell variants. I love vintage/Pulp/retro everything, especially '30s and '40s-themed pieces, so DC captured my love of nostalgia with these covers depicting the ladies of National Periodicals as superheroines of the Greatest Generation.
Because when you belong to the group that beat Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan, you're damn right you can call yourself the Greatest Generation.

Best New Comic:
Humans. This book is crazytown. It's Planet of the Apes as a 1970s grindhouse biker movie.
And I love both of those things.
Foul language, drug and alcohol abuse, gratuitous ape-on-ape violence and graphic ape-on-ape sex abound, often on the same page. Primate biker gang exploitation at its finest.
Also Vietnam flashbacks.

Most Overrated:
Batman. Goddammit, it's Batman. I wish it weren't so, as Batman jockeys for top spot in my All-Time Favorite Superhero list, but, damn, does this book not live up to the hype. Snyder has some great ideas, plants some interesting seeds, and comes up with some compelling (or at least interesting) characters, and then seems like he's unsure how to pull it all together. The result is Face/Off (maybe immortal?) Joker and Jim Gordon as Batman in a mech suit that reminds me of the Rabbot from the first episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. I just want to throw a hardcover collection of Alan Grant/Norm Breyfogle Batman at him and yell, "Do better!!!"
Capullo does a fine job on art, albeit it seems better suited to Hellspawns and Witchblades than Dark Knights. His background work and mechanical design is phenomenal, but I'm just not enamored with his figure work.
Maybe next year, Detective . . .

Most Underrated:
Ragnarok. Walt Simonson dropped the hammer on one of the most phenomenal Thor runs in Marvel history and gets back to his Nordic roots with Ragnarok. Set after the Norse extinction level event and starring a badass looking undead Thor. Simonson absolutely murders it on art detail, and the writing is clever stuff. The book also features the neatest looking Mjolner I've ever seen, but that's only a smidgen of the wonder contained in this underappreciated gem.
Go buy this book.

Most Disappointing:
Deathstroke, hands down. The initial Nu52 series was weak, and the new one followed suit. I was a big Slade Wilson fan back in the good ol' DCU pre-Flashpoint, back in his glory days as a Teen Titans villain and right up to and including when he defeated The Atom with a laser pointer.
I keep hoping, but those halcyon days are gone, and in a big way.

Most Likely to be Used as Toilet Paper in the Event of Nuclear Holocaust:
Actually, there weren't any books that raised my hackles to a vomitous level this year. There were Disappointments, for sure, but nothing that inspired Age of Ultron or Before Watchmen-level hate.
I guess if I had to pick one, it'd be that Chick Tract I found in the lobby of a Chinese restaurant. It involved some guy damned to hell for choosing poorly in life and something about learning the error of your heathen ways or somesuch. As much as I love some good propaganda, Chick Tracts are just the worst.

Best Miniseries:
It's a tie, ladies and gents! I couldn't choose between The Big Con Job and Rocket Salvage. Con Job is a caper story a la Ocean's Eleven involving a group of washed-up celebrities and a plot to rob San Diego Comic-Con. Great art and humorous, at times heartwarming, writing net a win for Jimmy Palmiotti and company.
Rocket Salvage is a science fiction tale about a washed up Podracer (for all intents and purposes...), his daughter, his clone, a wacky mad scientist, evil alien gangsters, superweapons, a sexy sci-fi lady, and all the good stuff that makes space opera great.
But it's mostly kinda about the importance of family, and that's the real deal.

Worst Miniseries:
Original Sin. I wanted to love this book so hard. A whodunit about The Watcher getting murdered? A Dr. Strange/Punisher buddy cop angle? Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato collaboration? It screamed win.
The first few issues were good, Deodato killed it on art duty and mad props for Aaron utilizing Midas and Oubliette from Grant Morrison's amazing Marvel Boy mini, but the series fell apart about halfway through. The 'Man on the Wall' angle was pretty ridiculous and after a certain point it reeked a bit of editorial mandate to retire Nick Fury from the scene.
But it had The Orb, so there's that.

Writer of the Year:
I'm gonna have to go with Kelly Sue DeConnick on this one. Her work on Captain Marvel has been stellar nearly across the board with almost no missteps in my opinion. I'm showing a bit of character favoritism as I've been in love with Carol Danvers since she punched Rogue into low orbit in an old issue of Uncanny X-Men, but Kelly Sue has evolved Captain Marvel into an almost ‘Rosie the Riveter’ role model archetype, strong and empowering.
I applaud her work on Captain Marvel, but the real reason writer of the year goes to Kelly Sue DeConnick is Bitch Planet.
Outward appearance leads one to believe that Bitch Planet is a sci-fi take on the old ‘Women in Prison’ exploitation genre, but behind the veneer of sadistic wardens and shower scenes the book is a well- crafted masterpiece about strong as Hell women. Mad as Hell and we’re not gonna take it women. The kind of women that inspire readers to get tattoos of the book’s ‘noncompliant’ mark and wear it like a badge of honor. Whereas Captain Marvel is a ‘Yes We Can!’ type of book, Bitch Planet is geared towards more of a ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It!’ aesthetic. I applaud both. Go get ‘em, girls.

Artist of the Year:
Jordie Bellaire.
These Four Color funnybooks of ours aren’t worth a whole helluva lot without a good colorist, and Jordie is among the best. Although colorists are an oft-overlooked facet of comicdom, her work pops off the page and demands attention. Magneto, Moon Knight and The Kitchen were the three books I read this year that featured her colors and I was ecstatic. Moon Knight and The Kitchen especially demonstrated her palette mastery and enhanced the storytelling to another level. Everyone has read a comic that, while otherwise good, has been diminished by rushed or poor colors. It can ruin your enjoyment of a comic and cause you to never revisit the piece.
I guarantee none of those books were colored by Jordie Bellaire.

The Hammy Awards will return about this time next year, dear readers.
-The HCB staff.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Madman at The Secret Stash

Post: Cody "Madman" Miller

I first heard about Kevin Smith’s comic book store, Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, way back in my angst filled youth, in the late 90’s. At sixteen or seventeen New Jersey seemed like some far-off alien land that might as well be on the moon . . . but I wanted to go so, so bad. No question: a pilgrimage to Red Banks, New Jersey, was soundly on my top ten list of things to do before I died. In truth, my true motivation wasn’t necessarily to buy comics because for one I didn’t have any real cash at that age. You see, I saw the Stash as a sort of Mecca. It was a place where the fun was. I wanted to hang out in front with Jay and Silent Bob while listening to Brodie and Randal go off on a rant. What can I say? The world and my brain worked differently back then.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

REVIEW: Gun #1

Story & Art: Jack Foster
Letters: Greg Sorkin
Review: Will Dubbeld

I wouldn't go so far as to say Kickstarter has completely revolutionized the world of independent comics, but it certainly changed its face. A creative team with a great pitch, a slick video and sound business plan usually has a good shot at getting their comic book made.

I've backed quite a few of these projects and have always been impressed with the results, but I missed out on Gun during its Kickstarter campaign. As fortune would have it, a friend of mine turned me onto the book. Writer/artist Jack Foster was a former co-worker of said friend, and I scouted out the book and ordered some copies.


Friday, July 24, 2015

REVIEW: Big Man Plans #1-4

Writers: Eric Powell and Tim Wiesch
Art: Eric Powell
Review: Art Bee

When it comes to miniseries I start more than I finish. There is a real talent in producing a quality miniseries, and many are not up for the task. Numerous series have a great start only to fizzle out halfway through and end up with a finale that has nothing to do with the beginning. It’s as I have stated before: a creator has a great idea for a scene or a character and that becomes the focus. They bend the story around it and they end up with a sub par product.

When Big Man Plans #1 looked at me from the shelf of my LBCS, I thought I would give it a chance. What a great decision! This was truly a good series to read. Four issues and not a bit wasted.

The story starts with the main character, a man who has dwarfism and only referred to as Big Man in an interior monologue.

“When you don’t care about losing your own life, when you lose the fear of losing everything, you can do anything. And the moment I read that letter, my number of fucks to give had reached zero.”

This really had my curiosity piqued as to the letters contents and who sent the letter. Big Man is setting in a bar dealing with drunkards poking fun at him and pretty harshly I may add. They get theirs; don’t worry. The entire story reminds me of a Charles Bronson Death Wish movie if Bronson was about three and a half feet high.

The story is well planned and executed. The first issue is a perfect set up with the story hook, background, and character designs. The pace of each issue is the same and the story develops naturally. I really want to share some of the highlights, but I am trying to support the sales of the story not hand it out.

Now I save the best for last: the artwork. Eric Powell’s pencils are phenomenal. Much of the story is focused on the situations occurring and his art reflects with little background and sharp contrasting lines for the characters. Colors are used perfectly to enhance emotion rather than the scenes. My favorite feature of his art is the exaggerated emotions on character faces. It adds intensity to the story that many others lack.

As the last issue came out two weeks ago, please pick this up in a trade or get the back issues. By the look of my LCBS they had issues left over, so you may be about to find them in dollar boxes. This series is really worth the read. You will truly enjoy it, although it is recommended for mature audiences.

REVIEW: Red Skull #1

Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Luca Pizzari
Color Artist: Rainier Beredo
Review: Cody "Madman" Miller

I decided way before Secret Wars: The Threequal started that I wasn’t going to make eye contact and maybe it’d just go away.

I was wrong . . . so, so wrong.

I passed on the two prior mega-events that Marvel shat out as well. I can’t even think what they were called off of the top of my head at the moment, that’s how much I actually cared. Marvel and DC are both suffering from diarrhea of the mega-event, saturation bombing their relevance right outta comicdom. Unless you’ve been living on some distant planet you have to know that Marvel has burnt their Multiverse to the ground and have launched all kinds of new series that I refuse to care about . . . I mean, chances are good that in about a year Marvel will just reset the MU back to how it was before Joe Q and the rest of the Marvel high ups started getting high and coming up with this “great idea” called Battleworld. I don’t like it. To be fair I haven’t read enough of the titles to say that they’re all horrible, not entertaining books and few that I have been reading such as Masters of Kung Fu, Old Man Logan, and 1872, and M.O.D.O.K: Assassins have all been entertaining reads. It’s the main title and its core tie-ins that give me the Mehs. It’s just seems like they (Marvel) just want to see what they can get away with. How long were the Marvel Executives sitting around the in the think tank in complete silence before some hero blurts out “Battleworld?” Even the name is generic and uninspired. I don’t like it.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

REVIEW: Archie #1

Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Fiona Staples
Review: William R. Davis Jr.

America is a country founded on unwavering faith in an abstract idea. The American Dream drives the nation forward even in today’s overly pessimistic times. To most Americans this core belief still holds true: anyone can become anything with a strong work ethic or one great idea. Stories like Archie are rooted in this same brand of national optimism.

Before there was Dawson, there was Archie. There are hundreds of examples of this in every medium of American storytelling. All of our most greatly admired protagonists are Beaver Cleavers, Kevin Arnolds, and Rudy Ruettigers. Archie is just another example of the angels of our better nature finding their way onto the page. I sat searching for answers as to why we need these morality tales (and we do), but the answer is either inherently and subconsciously American or something that I am not willing to admit to myself out of some deep seated shame. Let me come clean, I have indulged in my fair share of Full House and The Brady Bunch episodes.

Monday, July 6, 2015

REVIEW: Marvel Zombies #1

Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Kev Walker
Review: Will Dubbeld

Oh boy, you guys, where to start?
Secret Wars is upon us, and dearly departed Marvel 616 rapidly becomes a distant memory. I'll not delve into the minutiae of Secret Wars, but between Beyonders destroying worlds, Namor and Thanos destroying other worlds, Dr. Doom remaking the world with godlike powers and Captain America tooling around with Devil Dinosaur, it's crazy. Whack, some might say.
I'd even go so far as to call it cray cray.

Dr. Dooms remanufactured world, (called Battleworld) is a composite of several chunks if alternate earths, making the backdrop for Secret Wars like a bunch of What If? back issues tossed into a cauldron and poured onto the page.


The setting for Marvel Zombies is a realm besieged by (surprise, surprise...) zombies and defended by heroes manning a Great Wall (zing!) called The Shield. Our protagonist comes to us in the form of Elsa Bloodstone and I'm pretty happy about that.

A little moment to rap about Elsa Bloodstone, if I may. Elsa is a rough and tumble monster hunter possessing a fragment of a meteor that grants her some degree of superpowers. She also has the distinction of being the daughter of Ulysses Bloodstone, monster hunter par excellence and bearer of the Bloodstone proper. The Bloodstone is a super-power grantin' meteorite that was encountered by a Hyborian barbarian who bombed around doing superhuman business for the next 10,000 years.
Because someone at Marvel was like, "Vandal Savage what?"

Anyhow, I love Ulysses Bloodstone despite the character being dead for longer than I've been alive and via the transitive property I also love his daughter Elsa.
Don't worry. It's a pure kind of love.
I enjoyed her miniseries, but the character really came into her own in Nextwave, a Warren Ellis series that arguably deconstructed the super hero archetype better than Watchmen.

This particular incarnation of Elsa finds her defending The Shield against endless hordes of zombies, and through zombie teleporting happenstance ends up stranded in the zombie-controlled wasteland beyond.
After disposing of a zombie Doctor Octopus she finds herself in the company of an amnesiac boy, dubbed 'Shuttup' by our erstwhile heroine, and attempting to safely make it back to The Shield.

'Shuttup' provides comedy relief, and the interplay between he and Elsa is entertaining, but I don't trust this kid. He suggests heading away from The Shield, toward parts unknown, instead of towards safety. Elsa eventually relents after seeing the horde of zombies barring their path. Kev Walker's art shines here. Elsa crests a ridge only to find the horizon and everything else in her field of vision a roiling swarm of undead. It's almost as great as his rendition of Zombie Juggernaut.
I'm just gonna let that image tumble around your grey matter for a bit.
Zombie. Juggernaut.

So, Elsa and her youthful charge head off into the post-apocalyptic zombie infested wasteland. It's no surprise that they're not alone, and I'm certain plenty of monster hunter-on-zombie action will ensue in the remainder if the series.

There are waaayyyy too many tie-in books to Secret Wars, and this dutiful Marvel Zombie is buying his share of obscurae for the event. I'm staying away from the Civil Wars and House of M and other well-known properties and picking up your basic Weirdworlds and your Where Monsters Dwell and what have you. Most of the good stories deal with minor characters from little, forgotten corners of the Marvel Universe and Marvel Zombies is no exception.

Spurrier crafts a witty character in Elsa and the PTSD flashbacks of the borderline abusive training at the hands of her father are chilling, yet darkly comedic.
How twisted is that? 1-10...
Kev Walker nails it in the art department with the assistance of Frank D'Armata on colors. Crisp, detailed figures and backgrounds coupled with colors that juggle dreary and bright from page to page really make the art in this book pop.

I'm not quite inundated with Secret Wars books yet, but the bucket it rapidly filling. After giving quite a few the first issue treatment I'm now at the point where I see who makes the cut. As weary as I am of the zombie pop-culture phenomena I'm keeping this particular zombie book on my pull list for the foreseeable future.

Marvel Zombie must buy product, after all.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

REVIEW: Secret Six #3

Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Dale Eaglesham
Colorist: Jason Wright
Review: Art Bee

Recently DC and Marvel have been making poor decisions regarding their intellectual properties. I followed along cringing with the reboots, but I liked a few of the changes. The Big 2 are currently revamping and redesigning their stories, characters, and even the environment in which they exist. This is bad for us older comic fans for it means the death of the characters we have loved during our lives. Revamping means killing what the hero or story was and slapping the old label on something new. Marvel and DC are trading in their long term fanfare for a new younger generation.

My suggestion is to create new characters in the same flavor of the old ones and have them exist in their own element. The Multiverse. It was a great tool to enable creativity and expansion. If Marvel and DC really wanted to attract newer and younger readers, they should reduce the number of comic books focused on one story element to one or two QUALITY books and put the extra effort into a new segment of the multiverse which targets the desired demographic. Seriously, six or seven Avengers comic books revolving around the same event is really old and overkill.

As of two months ago, I have officially dropped all Marvel and DC books except for Amazing Spider-Man, Star Wars, Darth Vader, and Secret Six, and the latter is on the chopping block at the moment as well.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

REVIEW: The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1

Writer: Dan Slott
Pencils: Adam Kubert
Inks: John Dell
Colors: Justin Ponson
Reviews: Madman (1st) & Rynae “Madwoman” Miller (2nd)

First Review

So, we here at the HCB decided to mix it up a bit and do some duel reviews team-up style with our main womans. Art Bee and his daughter did a review a few weeks back to kick off Estrogen Month here at the HCB. So . . . I had to think on what book to hand my wife to review. She never reads comics and has shown zero real interest in comics . . . ever, except maybe to tell me to get them off the coffee table. I was really surprised she actually agreed to this fiasco in the first place, so I had to tread carefully and try and not turn her off of comics for good. Thanks to this Secret Wars business that’s currently going on over at Marvel the answer just kind of fell into my lap with this new Renew Your Vows series.

In this Spiderverse Peter and MJ are married and has a daughter named Annie, which is cool. I’ve always liked the idea of Spider-Man having children. I really liked that about the Mayday Spider-Woman books, and I’m an instant fan of Annie here.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Like A Velvet Glove Cast in Iron, A Tragedy or at the Very Least a Great Pain in the Ass, told in 1 part.

I've just recently, within the past 3 or so years, gotten into the works of Daniel Clowes. I think I was peripherally aware of him back when the Ghost World movie was released and it was super popular for a hot minute. Other than that I was largely ignorant of his body of work aside from an ad I'd seen on the back of an old issue of Usagi Yojimbo.
Although that may have been an ad for a Peter Bagge book...
Hell, I dunno...

Anywho, a couple-or-perhaps-three years ago the staff of the HCB made a pilgrimage to Wizard World Chicago in order to pay homage to our ancestors and buy nerd-swag. A good time was had by all, longboxes were pawed through, and I got Boba Fett's autograph.

Jeremy Bulloch. Not the little kid from Episode II.
Jeremy is an exceedingly polite Englishman, and we had a nice conversation about the dearly departed Irvin Kershner, of whom he spoke quite fondly.

Paul Jenkins and Mark Texeira were also very friendly, though I suspect my girlfriends bosom-hugging Supergirl shirt may have contributed somewhat to their good cheer . . .

After the con, Chicago pizza, some games and lots of drinks, we retired to a mildly shady motel off the interstate that was located within walking distance of a strip club for your convenience. This motel also may have been featured in a news report about that guy who had murdered like 30 girls in the Gary region over the years, but I couldn't say for sure.
Although I'm fairly certain it's the same one.

The next morning was a tad bittersweet, as our site founder and brother-in-arms William Davis was leaving within the fortnight for South Korea to teach English to wee South Korean children. And to drink copious amounts of cheap Korean beer.
In any case, that morning William posed the following question:
"Hey, does anybody want to buy some statues? I can't get anything out of them at the local shops and I'm not taking them to Korea".

We all knew damn well what he meant by statues. Not garden statuary, library busts or the like.

We were talkin' comic book statues.

I gave fellow feature writer Cody Miller the first crack at them.
He had seniority.

Cody said something along the lines of, "Man, I have like 8 dollars left".

I told William I could give him $50 for the lot of them, and a look crossed his face that said he'd really like to get more than $50 for them.

"Yeah, I can do fifty. I know they'll be going to a good home".

The deal was sealed, money and statuary exchanged hands.

Full disclosure:
I really only wanted the Jesse Custer and Rorschach statues, but there were a couples more in the lot.
One in particular caught my eye. A slightly pickaninny-looking character that could be construed as a bit of a racist caricature by some of the more thin-skinned amongst us.

"What the hell is a Pogeybait?", I asked, holding aloft the odd fellow.

Mr. Davis went on to explain, a bit excitedly, that Pogeybait was a character in the indy comics written by this Daniel Clowes fellow.
I made a mental note, along with some other tidbits William gave me about my new acquisitions.
(Sorry, Waffles, I still haven't checked out that Chris Ware book...)

Quantum Leap forward a month or so, and I finally was on the hunt for some Clowes material. I figured if I was going to be the caretaker of this statue I'd better read up on him. Before long I'd found an inexpensive used copy of Twentieth Century Eightball and I was off to the races.
I loved it. Clowes comics were nearly Second Wave Of Underground Comics-style work, mixing that recipe of juvenile humor, acerbic wit, social commentary and raciness.
In the next year or so I picked Death Ray and Wilson, both excellent works, and always was I watchful for more.

Not that I couldn't order anything I wanted from the Daniel Clowes bibliography off the internets, but the chase is half the fun.
Right, kids?

Which brings us to ...A Velvet Glove.
Soon. I'll get there, don't fret.

Some years ago my parents retired to a quaint little village on the Ohio River. A nice little burg with a hippy -dippy art community, great architecture, and a hole in the wall pub with one of the best goddamn burgers I've had in recent history. Nestled amongst the downtown shops, across from the antique stores and down the street from the ice cream parlor, is a used DVD/video game store. The kind with just stacks and stacks of movies and bits of other assorted ephemera.
I'd pop in most times when I was down visiting my parents. I like to paw through movies and it's always good to strike up a bit of a rapport with merchants.

And then one day there were longboxes in the store.

Hot damn, we're in business now. We were talking the kind of flea-market longboxes, the dingy ones, devoid of bags and boards and plenty of spine curl and folded corners.
The fun ones to dig through.

Soon after that, bookshelves went up. The kind of bookshelves you put graphic novels and hardcover collections on.

I bought Marvel Masterworks editions of Young Allies and Rawhide Kid from this dude, because he sold them to me dirt cheap.
Reference the aforementioned rapport...

My last trip 'round, last month , yielded a great haul. There were 3 Will Eisner books I hadn't previously owned and lo! Some Daniel Clowes books.
One was his Caricature collection, and the other was Like A Velvet Glove Cast in Iron. What luck!
All these books were between $2-$4 apiece, and that, dear readers, was a done deal. I loaded up my arms, zippety do dah'd to the register and headed home with my fresh nerd loot.
I hadn't even looked at the books to speak of, certainly hadn't examined them, as I was too excited by my find to rationally make a decision more advanced than "buy product!"

So imagine my consternation when I discovered Like A Velvet Glove... had at some point been the recipient of some water damage and subsequently the pages had welded to one another after they had dried.

Fuck. Beans.

I really wanted to read this book. I'd eyeballed the book online for quite awhile but had balked at buying it because I tow the line between "$8.99? I bet I can find this cheaper somewhere..." and "$125 for the book club edition of Captain Marvel and the Monster Society of Evil? I'm in..."

I've some experience with book-shepherding, so I gingerly attempted to separate the pages. Almost the entirety of the book had pages stuck together in the bottom quarter of the book, nearest the spine.
Which meant every seventh panel in the nine panel layout on every page was illegible.

My efforts were unsuccessful, netting a result of some pages getting separated but for the most part gained naught but torn pages.
Perseverance soon gave way to frustration and I put the book away. In my luggage, to be revisited at a later date.
I briefly bandied about the idea of taking the book back to the shop, but opted not.
It was a $2 purchase, not a high dollar expenditure. I'm fairly certain the proprietor wasn't sequestered in his lair, twisting his mustache and thinking, "Nyah-ha! I finally got some clueless rube to buy that damaged Clowes book! Thanks for the two dollars!"

Plus at this point it was a war of attrition between me and this damaged book...

Upon my return home I did some research, didn't find many realistic options I was ready to explore, and certainly wasn't willing to spend any money on getting this book professionally repaired.
I'd already spent 2 whole dollars, after all...

At the end of the day, I threw caution to the wind and attempted a slapdash rendition of one repair technique.

Do not replicate this on any book you want to keep intact...

I started by running each page under hot water at the stuck point. Each page. One at a time.
It worked. The hot water broke whatever hellish grasp the pages had on one another and separation occurred.
On the downside, I was fully aware that once the pages dried, they would simply stick back together.
A mixture of lackadaisical apathy and good old American laziness led me to an answer.

I'd freeze-dry that sumbitch.

It's sound logic, but not quite a task your Friendly Neighborhood Refrigerator Freezer is up to.

But that's what I've got, so into the freezer went Like A Velvet Glove...

As a great aside, this served to confuse my girlfriend who, upon returning home from vacation, discovered a comic book in the freezer with no explanation as to why.

After a couple of weeks in the freezer I got bored with the whole thing. I was ready to render this book to a readable state or call it a loss ad buy a replacement.

But I'd already spent those 2 dollars, so I had a pretty good idea where I was going with this...

The freeze drying process actually kind of worked and many of the pages had separated and the moisture had been expunged via freezing.
The middle of the book, however, was a solid frozen mass of ice and comic book.
Utterly defeating the point of my freeze-drying , my impatience compelled me to throw the book into the microwave and start thawing/drying it in 20 second bursts.
The attempt to thaw was much more successful than the attempt to dry, and at the end of the day I was left wet pages that would stick back together once the pages dried.

Which was exactly where I was before I threw the sucker into the freezer.

Not willing to go through this freezer business again, I opted for plan B. Daniel Clowes was simply taking up too much valuable pizza roll space.
Plan B (From Outer Space...) involved suspending the book in front of a high-powered fan, leafing through the pages one by one to prevent sticking, and thinking, "Really? Two dollars?".

That was 2 days ago.

I've been blow-drying this thing for 2 days, and it seems to have worked. Everything is nearly dry, but at the expense of the structural integrity of the book. The spine is cracked nearly a quarter of the way up the lengthy, and the bottom half of the book is so flared out and rippled from water damage I may have to park my car on the thing in order to press it flat. In all honesty in may only peripherally resemble flat once it's all said and done.

Soon I'll be able to read the book, however, and really that was all I was after in the first place. I'd prefer to have a nice, pristine copy, devoid of water damage and frustration, but such is life.
The fan is still whirring in the other room, putting the final drying on Like A Velvet Glove . . . and I may see if some of my artsy friends have anyone in their collective network who can rebind books .

For a reasonable fee, of course.

After all, I've already spent two dollars on the book . . .

Monday, May 25, 2015

REVIEW: Psycho Bonkers #1

Today at the HCB, we’ve decided to mix things up a bit and have feature writer Art Bee and his daughter Ally (age 8) review the same book. Look for more amazingly amazing innovations from the Hammond Comics Blog in the near future, but without further ado here’s The Hammond Comics Blog Super-Hero Father/Daughter Team-Up!

Story: Vince Hernandez
Artwork: Adam Archer
Colors: Federico Blee
Reviews: Ally Bee (1st) & Art Bee (2nd)

First Review-
I really liked Psycho Bonkers. The artwork is very outstanding. The colors are pretty, and there is a lot of detail. The cars look really cool, too. Shine, the main person, lost her Mom and her Grandpappy, but she was as good a bonk racer as her Grandpappy. The best part about the comic is the futuristic racing.

Second Review-
Prior to this book the only other exposure to Aspen Comics I have had was Fathom, Vol. 1. Fathom had some truly awesome artwork, but the story was dry, slow, and a bit torturous. Psycho Bonkers has given me some hope on the latter for Aspen.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

REVIEW: Spider-Woman #7

Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Penciler: Javier Rodriguez
Inker: Alvaro Lopez
Colorist: Muntsa Vicente
Review: Cody "Madman" Miller

I have been enjoying the hell out of this title; I’d literally give every issue a thumbs up. Now, one could argue that my man crush on Spider-Man has somewhat biased my opinion towards his female spider-kin, and I’m sure that’s about right. No doubt my puberty-infested, angst-ridden younger self eagerly snatched handfuls of the early 80s Jessica Drew books . . . because . . . Spider-Man with boobies! The early 90s ushered in Vol. 2 with its amazing run of four issues and I was there. Mattie Franklin takes up the mantle in Vol 3 in the mid to late 90s and pretty much sealed the deal for me there. I don’t care how much my friends made fun of me, I stood behind Mattie then and I stand behind her now. Comics and I went our separate ways for a number of years about the time that run was coming to an end, so I don’t know those other gals that were after Mattie. I’m sure they were nice . . .

Yeah, I was super excited for the present day (vol. 5, by my count) incarnation of Spider-Woman.
Jessica Drew, in her own series again, has just recently left the Avengers in hopes of living a “normal” life.
Spoiler alert! That’s not going to happen.

The current story arc has She-Spidey teamed up with the gottdamn Porcupine! That’s right, I said the Porcupine. Fantastic! More then anything in comics I love D-list super villains. More specifically I love the D-listers who are so ridiculous that they refuse to go away, for example, the gottdamn Porcupine. Or how about the Kangaroo who’s endearing mug graces the cover of this very issue? The best team-up ever is investigating the disappearances of a large number of the families of super villains. Towards the end of this issue it’s revealed that these families are all living in some kind of beret-wearing militant feminist commune that is apparently run by some as of yet unknown dame named Cat. On the last page of the book Cat bursts through the wall to confront Spider-Woman, now when I first saw Cat referenced I immediately assumed we were talking about the Black Cat here, so you can imagine my surprise when Cat turns out to be an enraged psycho operating some sort of Caterpillar backhoe/super robot mech suit kinda thing . . . Yeah, it's intense but at least Porcupine is here to save the gottdamn day.

As for the spit and polish, the writing has been fresh and fun and the art has been fantastic. It’s to bad Marvel is about to jack up the MU and this and many other good books all in the name of their newest “mega event” . . . and that’s a shame

Buncha dicks . . .

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Free Comic Book Day 2015

First Saturday in May. Free Comic Book Day. It's like Nerd Christmas, but the weather is better.
Every year the stalwart staff of the Hammond Comics Blog treks across the urban landscape and visits brick and mortar shops for funnybooks and perhaps door prizes and snacks.
A sampling of our collective FCBD loot is reviewed herein.

Reviewer: Art Bee

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Publisher: IDW
Writer: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, & Tom Waltz
Art: Mateus Santolouco, Dan Duncan, Ross Campbell, & Cory Smith

This was not the first book I grabbed, but it was the first I read, and it was truly a difficult read. The story was hard to follow mainly due to all of the recapping. I believe this book was to bring new people to reading the ongoing series, but the problem with their approach revolves around their delivery. They are recapping in a language fitting for people familiar to the story line. This made me feel like I walked into a women’s conversation about menstrual cramps. Awkward and out of place.

The artwork shifted from really good to slightly distorted, but the colors were great.
As an aside, I would have really liked to have seen April. She only appears in one small poorly done panel. A huge demerit issued to them from those of us who used to have a massive crush on this fine news reporter.

Friday, May 1, 2015

REVIEW: Justice League Dark #40

Writer: J.M. DeMatteis
Penciller: Andres Guinaldo
Review: Will Dubbeld

I'm not shy about expressing my dislike for DCs Nu52. Borderline hatred, really. I understand the logic behind the original Crisis on Infinite Earths. The company's continuity had been bogged down by Silver Ages and Earth-12s and all kinds of convoluted types of Kryptonite. Resetting the timeline and universe made sense. Flashpoint and the dreck it has wrought, however, is in no way bueno. I could launch a lengthy diatribe detailing whys and who's and whatnots, but I'll spare you, Loyal Readers, the pain.

Fanboy pouting aside, Flashpoint wiped clean my beloved DCU and replaced it with 52 new titles, amongst them Justice League Dark. My curiosity was piqued as I've a love for the supernatural. Dr. Strange, Dr. Fate, Man-Thing, Swamp Thing, Hawkman reincarnations and all the Rintrah you can eat. Gimmie all of that. Justice League Dark had a knockout cast of characters and killer scribe Peter Milligan at the helm when the book launched, so I bit. DC had me for 2.99.

Because, y'know, DC Comics is drawing the line at 2.99 . . .

Unfortunately, JLD did not deliver. Some of the early arcs were fair to good, but nothing melted my face off like a book with Swamp Thing, Frankenstein’s Monster, and the House of Mystery should have.

I dunno, maybe DCs stellar editorial is to blame but only by a mixture of ankle-chewing Chihuahua-like tenacity and plain dumb loyalty did I stick with this book. Milligans tenure came and went; Jeff Lemire stepped up to the plate and pitched for a couple of innings, and J.M. DeMatteis finished out the series.

Now, DeMatteis has written some stellar books, some jaw-droppingly good and important comics.

Justice League Dark is not amongst them.

I'm not even saying this as a bitter old bastard fanboy; I'm convinced that JLD is just legitimately sub-par work. The latest arc involved the League attempting to stave off a universe-consuming force called Pralaya. For the rubes, including myself before some quick research, Pralaya is a term in Hindu mythology detailing a period of dissolution where there exists nothing but void. That's an extremely dumbed down explanation. Pralaya has several incarnations involving the lifetime of Brahma and the rebirth of the universe and the non-existence of existence and other deeply philosophical and thought provoking themes that are cause for head scratching.

But whatever, Crom laughs at your Pralaya.

Anyhow, this issue of Justice League Dark finds all of creation destroyed save the House of Mystery and some magical simulacra of Zatanna and John Constantine. Pralaya soon will claim the House of Mystery and its occupants and all will be swallowed by oblivion.

So can we talk about Nu52 John Constantine for a minute? Fans of the dear departed Hellblazer series know where I'm going with this . . .
Constantine used to be a very subtle magician, weaving coincidental magic using the reliquary of Saint Dismas and the breath of a starling as it flew overhead or somesuch. Hellblazer wasn't about the magic so much as it was about the John Constantine character, his numerous flaws and relative few strong points, his interactions with an endless list of doomed friends, lovers and acquaintances, and occasionally he hung out with Morpheus and Swamp Thing.

On the other hand, Nu52 Constantine pals around with superfolks, blasting lightning bolts from one hand and wielding a +4 longsword in the other, and his characterization can be boiled down to, "Oi! I can't be trusted and I'm kind of a prick! But without the nuances and charm I once had! Fancy a shag, love?"

Nu52 John Constantine is basically dickhead Dr. Strange, but nowhere near as endearing.

But whatever, at least he still smokes.

In any case, the swan song of JLD is barely a warble. The story plods a bit, and then neatly wraps itself up with a bright spot in the clever use of Swamp Thing, his connection to the World Tree, and use of The Green to rebirth the multiverse after its consumption by Pralaya. I quite enjoyed that bit of writing.

At the end of the day, the League disbands because surprise nobody can trust Constantine and surprise Constantine is abandoned and alone at the end.

Get it? Because that's his thing? All his friends either leave him or they get killed?

It's utterly disappointing, because with the exception of the reprehensibly terrible Nightmare Nurse character, all of the other cast members were potentially great.
Zatanna, Swamp Thing, Deadman, Madame Xanadu, all of these are great, well established (albeit largely B-Grade) characters who have been underutilized and mishandled in this series. I stuck it out for the duration in hopes that the book would pick up, but I just saw diminishing returns every month.
Perhaps a more entertaining treatment of the Justice League Dark will appear after Convergence or Crisis pt. 6 or whatever DC inflicts upon us this year. Here's to hoping...

On the bright side the issue I purchased featured a variant cover homage to the Beetlejuice movie poster, so that was fun.

Unfortunately the fun, for the most part, stopped at the front cover.

Swing and a miss, DC.

Swing and a miss . . .

Friday, April 17, 2015

REVIEW: Archie vs Predator #1 of 4

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Script: Alex de Campi
Pencils: Fernando Ruiz
Inks: Rich Koslowski
Colors: Jason Millet
Review: Art Bee

I recently made the comment that nothing good is coming out of Dark Horse comics. Archie vs. Predator seems to steer that comment into slightly wrong territory. It was by chance I even laid eyes on this comic while at my LCBS, Comics Cubed. I was in a rush to get my other errands done and get back in time to pick up my child from school. The awesome cover of this issue drawn by Eric Powell just stopped me. The Predator was drawn well, holding the decapitated head of Jughead and standing over a burger.

You have to understand my stance on the Riverdale gang. When I was a child my interest in comics began with Fantastic Four and Star Wars. Unfortunately, my ass of a father took that as me wanting to read Archie like he had for years and dumped bunches on me. For a while my comic interest died in Riverdale. Until I was older and buying my own comics, the thought of purchasing an Archie comic just about made me puke, but the thought of Predator tearing through the Riverdale gang just lit me up inside.

I have to hand it to Alex de Campi; she has done a great job on the story thus far. A stage for maximum carnage has been set without trampling on preexisting work. At the start of the book the whole Riverdale gang is trying to decide how to spend their Spring Break, such a horrible dilemma for these troubled eternal teenagers. Cheryl and her brother Jason brag about yachting in the Caribbean, and about that moment Jughead tears a bag of chips open and wins a trip to a tropical beach paradise for all. What a setting for some prey to go and get hunted, right? Nope. I will not spoil that twist for you, but let me just say that this is not going to be a jungle or urban hunting ground.

This book was enjoyable and a couple of panels made me laugh, but the real enjoyment came from the bright, colorful artwork. Ruiz, Koslowski, and Millet intertwine their talents well. The thermal imaging artistry was done fairly well, and it was nice to see that the Predator could not pick whether he thought Betty or Veronica was prettier.

The following will be said without spoiling the comic: I think it was dumb on pages 19 and 20 that the Predator has made two kills and strung up over the group, and even though blood is dripping on them none of the gang looks up or mentions it at all. That is just unbelievable even in the world of make-believe. The dripping blood should have been left out completely.

My firm philosophy of comic books is the writer is the backbone of the comic. Artwork can be perfect and spectacular, but without a good story and direction, no one will be interested. De Campi is doing a great job lately. Last week No Mercy #1 (Image) really enthralled me with the story setup. Before these two issues came out Alex de Campi was unknown to me, but this is one writer to watch. She has a very attractive website at

Archie vs. Predator will be a mini-series I am going to have to follow. My hope is that the great hunter thins the herd in Riverdale. The only ones I hope survive are Jughead, Reggie, and Betty. That’s right! I am a Betty man. Veronica is just too full of herself. I just hope Predator is not vulnerable to dramatics and teenage whining.

Friday, April 10, 2015

REVIEW: Nailbiter #11

Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Mike Henderson
Colors: Adam Guzowski
Review: Cody "Madman" Miller

This book came out of nowhere. One fateful day it just randomly appeared in my folder at the local comic shop. Art Bee reviewed this book awhile ago and he liked it. The guy on the cover was chewing the fingernails off a severed hand, and the fact it was the first issue of a new story arc were the three selling points that kept me from putting this one back on the shelf.

As it turns out it was a good decision. I really dug Williamson’s writing. He does a great job of going almost too far, but then not. There were a few times I was stared at a page wondering what the hell I was doing reading this comic, that’s for sure. Serial killer books are usually not my forte. There’s no doubt that if you don’t prefer your comics saturated with profanity and gratuitous gore you will want to pass on this title because that is exactly what we have here.

Mike Henderson’s art was freaking fantastic and his page layouts are my favorite. Every page has a unique layout, from the two page spread of 2x2 panels depicting the WTF Killer hacking up some poor old bastard into tiny parts with a cleaver and Nailbiter professing his love for murdering and eating people, to the three panel page of The Butcher of Buckaroo dragging Barker into the darkness.

You see. The deal here is a shit-ton of serial killers come from the same small town in Oregon, and “The Fuzz” is here to find out why and lay down some law. That’s pretty much it except for the bat shit crazy stuff that happens cover to cover. The phrases “uncomfortable joyous nightmare” and “I just threw up in my mouth but it’s fine” best describe my Nailbiter experience.

Like I said before this isn’t my usual type of funnybook, but these fellas have all the bases covered and are forcing Nailbiter into a permanent spot on my pull list. I need to know more. I’m going to have to pick up the first trades and catch up because having just read this single issue I’m admittedly lost as to what the hell is actually going down and who the hell any of these people are.

Friday, April 3, 2015

REVIEW: Shadow Show

Shadow Show #1-5
By: William R. Davis Jr.

There are moments in comics that make them transcend any other medium. In the past there have been great adaptations of literary works and Shadow Show is a five issue mini-series that pays homage to the science fiction heavyweight, Ray Bradbury. It includes works from Harlan Ellison and Neil Gaiman, amongst others, and each issue is filled with dense introductions and epilogues. All five issues make you wish that this title from IDW had a spot on your monthly pull list, but perchance to dream.

Issue one was by far the weakest, but after that there were no more qualms, and no reservations whatsoever. As an avid Ray Bradbury fan, these books did a great writer justice. It was great to see such iconic prose in fresh context. All five issues will be collected soon, and it is worth your money to buy them in hardcover.
Backwards in Seville by Audrey Niffenegger and Eddie Campbell is so original and captivating that it would make Bryan Talbot blush. It is a great example of sequential art at its best, and one of the most unique stories I have read seen since Alice in Sunderland. It is nice to see IDW put out some quality content here. While the book may not be flying off of the shelves, it is a testament to a slight change of thought at the publishing level. Hopefully this is a small step towards a shift in quality that has come to define publishers like Image, a company that makes all other books on the market seem inferior by scale.

Don’t worry if you’re on the other end, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #1 is available for sale at your LCS today. Although the bronies may win this round, IDW has put some skin in the game with Shadow Show. My interest is piqued, and I will open my wallet to future IDW titles. It may be a moot cause, but you have to respect their ambition.