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 . . .