Weekly Comic 100s: Ranger Slayer, Joker War, and More!

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

DC’s decision to get in bed with Lunar Distribution is starting to feel like a mistake. Because out in my neck of the woods (the mid-west), it seems like Lunar is crapping said bed.

My local comic shop just went three weeks without receiving any product from DC. (Any DC books you’ve seen here in the last few weeks have been purchased digitally.) I’ve been going to comic shops for almost 20 years now and I’ve never see that happen. Not only is it unacceptable from a simple customer service perspective, but it couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Retailers are already being hit by the fallout from COVID-19. The least publishers can do is put the damn books in the stores…

Bad form, folks. Bad form.

TITLE: Power Rangers: Ranger Slayer
AUTHOR:
Ryan Parrott
ARTISTS:
Dan Mora, Raul Angulo (Colorist), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer)
RELEASED:
July  22, 2020

Not really my cup of tea. But if you were into Lord Drakkon’s dark alternate universe, or the “Coinless” Universe as it’s now called, you’ll be into this.

I was hoping for something more tightly focused on this alternate version of Kimberly. But the scope of this story is more about the Coinless Universe at large. Fair enough. I just wish they’d called this issue something different.

This issue gives us something I never thought we’d see, though in hindsight seems obvious for a universe like this: Ghost/Zombie Power Rangers. It was inevitable, I tell you!

TITLE: X-Men/Fantastic Four #4
AUTHOR:
Chip Zdarsky
ARTISTS:
Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson & Ranson Getty (Inkers), Laura Martin (Colorist), Joe Caramagna (Letterer)
RELEASED:
July 22, 2020

This one ends on something of a whimper, rather than a bang. Which is to say it more or less ends the way you think it will, with Franklin ending up where you think he will.

Still, the appeal of a mini like this is to see characters from different books rub against each other. X-Men/Fantastic Four does that.

There’s also a curious little scene at the end with Reed Richards that I’m curious to see if they follow up on.

TITLE: Batman #95
AUTHOR:
James Tynion IV
ARTISTS:
Jorge Jimenez, Tomeu Morey (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
RELEASED:
July 21, 2020

We kick off with kind of a dumb “retroactive foreshadowing” scene with Batman and Alfred. “Good thing Alfred will always be here,” and all that. Lame.

It occurred to me during this issue that “Joker War” is just a sophisticated version of that New Batman Adventures episode, “Joker’s Millions. That’s not a knock. I’m just sayin’.

Now that Joker knows Batman’s secret, it’s extremely foreboding to see him messing around with movie theaters. Especially the one Thomas and Martha Wayne went to with Bruce before their murder…

TITLE: Shazam! #13
AUTHOR:
Geoff Johns
ARTISTS:
Dale Eaglesham, Michael Atiyeh (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer). Variant cover by Julian Totino Tedesco.
RELEASED:
July 21, 2020

Well damn. If this book is ending in September, we’re not going to get a pay-off for this Superboy Prime stuff are we?

As the book really cranks up the father/son drama with Billy and his dad, I’m struck by just how great Dale Eaglesham has been on this title. It’s clean. It’s expressive. It’s versatile. He fits Shazam like a glove, to the point that this series has become one of my favorite takes on the character. Frankly, his work with Michael Atiyeh is worth the cover price on its own.

TITLE: Shazam!: Lightning Strikes #1
AUTHOR:
Dan Jurgens
ARTISTS:
Travis Moore, Nick Filardi, Marshall Dillon. Cover by Evan “Doc” Shaner.
RELEASED:
July  17, 2020

Now that the Shazam! book is ending, I’m particularly grateful to see the Big Red Cheese join DC’s line of digital-firsts.

What we get here is nice and kid-friendly. One of Billy Batson’s classmates is bragging about knowing Shazam. So Billy shows him up precisely the way you think he will. From there we segue into a fight with a villain.

Travis Moore’s Shazam looks a lot like Zachary Levi in the movie. I wonder if that’s intentional, or just how the character came out…

TITLE: Wynd #2
AUTHOR:
James Tynion IV
ARTISTS:
Michael Dialynas, Aditya Bidikar (Letterer)
RELEASED:
July 22, 2020

So far, this book feels a little bit like Saga for young people. It’s got whimsy and wit, but a lot less sex stuff.

After reinforcing some of the world-building they did last time, this issue cranks up the emotion with the prospect of separating Wynd from his adopted family. It’s very well done, and has me invested in not only Wynd, but his sister Oakley.

We also meet a character called “the Bandaged Man.” I really dig how he’s designed, though that may just be my love for Batman: Hush sneaking through.

TITLE: Action Comics #1023
AUTHOR:
Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS:
John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson (Inker), Brad Anderson (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer). Variant cover by Lucio Parillo.
RELEASED:
July 21, 2020

This is typically the part of “Weekly Comic 100s” where I complain about John Romita Jr. So here you go: I don’t like JRJR’s art here.

I just wonder if this book is getting over-crowded with Super-people. Remember, that’s part of what prompted the original Crisis on Infinite Earths. Superman didn’t feel as special because he had too many sidekicks, cousins, stringers, etc.

At the end of this issue Jimmy Olsen says, “Guess we’re not putting out a paper today.” That line should have had a lot more weight to it. If you’re a newsman, that’s blasphemy.

TITLE: Detective Comics #1023
AUTHORS:
Peter Tomasi
ARTISTS:
Brad Walker, Andrew Hennessy & Norm Rapmund (Inkers), Brad Anderson (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer)
RELEASED:
July 21, 2020

A team-up between the Joker and the Court of Owls? Now that’s the stuff of nightmares.

Detective Comics hasn’t felt like a Tomasi book in awhile. There’s a certain refinement that’s missing. In particular, Batman is a little too talky for my taste.

In this issue, Batman performs brain surgery on Two-Face out in the streets of Gotham (Because why not?). The comic book science regarding how Harvey’s brain is being messed with is a little confusing. Not that I’d put too much stock in it. At the end of the day, he’s still Two-Face.

TITLE: Billionaire Island #1
AUTHOR:
Mark Russell
ARTISTS:
Steve Pugh, Chris Chuckry (Colorist), Rob Steen (Letterer)
RELEASED:
March 4, 2020

A brutally honest, unfiltered look at where our society may be going sooner rather than later. And in all honesty, a clever premise for a book. I was expecting things to get Survivor-esque right off the bat. But they’re taking the time to build to that.

The most unsettling part of this issue? Our lead villain puts his opposition (journalists, etc) into a giant hamster cage. Complete with an oversized water dispenser. The sad thing? That doesn’t even seem that far-fetched anymore.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Weekly Comic 100s: Batman, Superman, and Shazam Return! Plus, Superhero of the Year?

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Ahhhh yes. Action and Detective are back. Now it really does feel like comics have returned.

I find it funny that on this week’s Action Comics cover (shown below) and several recent Superman covers, they’ve felt the need to tell us about Entertainment Weekly naming Superman the “Superhero of the Year.”

In case you’ve been trapped in a Fortress of Solitude since birth, Superman was the original comic book superhero and is an American icon whose legend has inspired millions. How many more issues could “Superhero of the Year” possibly be selling?

I love DC, and I love these characters. But it reeks of desperation. “Look at us! Entertainment Weekly knows who we are!”

TITLE: Batman: The Adventures Continue #5
AUTHOR:
Alan Burnett, Paul Dini
ARTISTS:
Ty Templeton, Monica Cubina (Colorist), Joshua Reed (Letterer). Cover by Joe Quinones.
RELEASED:
June 4, 2020

There’s a 9/11 reference in this issue. That’s really surreal considering The New Batman Adventures was on the air in the late ’90s.

We get something here that ties back to the first issue, which is kinda cool.

Is Deathstroke British in the DCAU? Some of his lines in this book sound like they should be coming from Alfred. Or perhaps a friend/relative of Alfred’s.

The last panel leaves some doubt as to whose side Jason Todd will be on when the chips are down. That’s definitely a tweak to what they did in Under the Hood.

TITLE: Action Comics #1022
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS: John Romita Jr., Danny Miki (Inker), Brad Anderson (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer). Cover inks by Klaus Janson.
RELEASED: June 2, 2020

This is the best issue of Action Comics in awhile, and not just because it’s the first one in awhile. We’re finally diving into who Conner Kent is and how he returned, so there’s a lot of intrigue here.

When it comes to how he’s drawn the past several issues, I’ve been pretty hard on John Romita Jr. Specifically, his figure rendering is positively jarring at times. But he’s on his best behavior here. I’m not sure if that has to do with all the additional lead-in time involved with the pandemic. But I ain’t complainin’.

TITLE: Batman/Superman #9
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS: Clayton Henry, Alejandro Sanchez (Colorist), John J. Hill (Letterer).
RELEASED: June 2, 2020

Good issue. Very accessible. We reference a lot of recent event comics, but with editor’s notes so readers can follow along. Williamson also provides some good exposition for Atomic Skull, who obviously meets a tragic end. Our villain doesn’t get the same treatment, but hopefully that comes next issue.

Clayton Henry’s art is clean, but avoids that over-the-top spotless look you sometimes see for artists going for that look. My only critique would be, oddly enough, the shape of Superman’s head on the cover. Something looks off…

TITLE: Shazam #12
AUTHOR: Jeff Loveness
ARTISTS: Brandon Peterson Mike Atiyeh (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer)
RELEASED:
June 2, 2020

I wouldn’t call Shazam! #12 a page-turner. But it is a fun team-up issue. Jeff Loveness, who’s worked on Rick and Morty, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and has also worked on Spider-Man and Groot over at Marvel, injects a lot of charm into the Big Red Cheese. Especially when it’s time for Billy Batson’s scenes with Freddy Freeman.

To the best of my recollection, this is my first exposure to Brandon Peterson. It’s a very solid outing for him. His work is nice and clean. Of course, Michael Atiyeh helps him out a lot with great coloring.

TITLE: Detective Comics #1022
AUTHOR: Peter Tomasi
ARTISTS: Brad Walker, Andrew Hennessy (Inker), Brad Anderson (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer)
RELEASED:
June 2, 2020

The early part of this issue is structured quite like the second part of a Batman ’66 story. You know, where they escape whatever death trap they were put in last time, and then sometimes fight off a bunch of henchmen? In this case, they’re literally named Vice and Versa.

We also build for Joker War in this book, and if I’m reading this right, it’s suggested that the events of that story were actually the second part of Joker’s plan from Death of the Family. Tomasi was also involves in that story via the Batman & Robin ongoing. Interesting…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Weekly Comic 100s: TMNT, Batman, Superman, and More!

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

We’re finally caught up on the March 25 releases. But, a special thanks to Jay’s Comics for mailing my books to me as all this Coronavirus madness unfolds.

So yeah, this could be the last “Weekly Comic 100s” for awhile. It will most certainly return once new issues start shipping again. But until then, perhaps you’ll see more deep-dive reviews in its place. Perhaps I’ll simply select some random indie comics to review.

But for now…

TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Jennika #2 (of 3)
AUTHORS: Braham Revel, Ronda Pattison
ARTISTS:
Revel, Megan Huang, Pattison (Colorist), Shawn Lee (Letterer).
RELEASED:
March 25, 2020

Poor Jennika gets friend-zoned in this issue. I was shocked. I didn’t know guys could do that. I thought it was just a thing for women…

Are we sure we only want this to be three issues? It seems like between Jennika’s past, and the promise of a mutagen “cure” they could easily stretch this to four or even five issues. But we’ve only got one left. C’mon! This is a new Ninja Turtle we’re talkin’ about! Let’s give this thing some room to breathe!

TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #104
AUTHORS: Kevin Eastman (Consultant), Tom Waltz (Consultant), Sophie Campbell (Script)
ARTISTS: Campbell, Ronda Pattison (Colors), Shawn Lee (Letterer).
RELEASED: March 25, 2020

When this series started in 2011, they did something really interesting. They made Raphael the long lost brother of the other three Turtles. It opened up a lot of doors for great storytelling. It was over in four issues.

After issue #100 the Turtles were split up again. Not just physically, but very much emotionally. Once again, some great story opportunities. Once again, it’s over in four issues.

What the hell, guys? Yes, we’re shaking up the status quo as it is. But why do that to the Turtles if you’re just going to undo it so quickly?

TITLE: Batman/Superman #8
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS: Nick Derington, Dave McCaig (Colorist), John J. Hill (Letterer). Variant cover by Andy Kubert and Brad Anderson.
RELEASED: March 25, 2020

Wait…that’s it? This whole General Zod/Ra’s al Ghul thing is just a two-issue story? Ugh. I need to do a better job reading the solicitations…

I enjoyed last issue’s cliffhanger, with all the miniaturized Kryptonians essentially becoming superpowered killer insects. But the way the whole Bottle City of Kandor thing wrapped up felt rushed and contrived. Even by superhero comic standards. Hopefully this is something they revisit in the future.

Still, if nothing else these issues were worth it for Nick Derington’s art.

TITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #49
AUTHOR: Ryan Parrott
ARTISTS: Daniele Di Nicuolo, Walter Baiamonte (Colorist), Katia Ranalli (Color Assistant), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Cover by Jamal Campbell.
RELEASED:
March 25, 2020

There’s a two page spread in this issue where all nine of our Rangers morph. Epic. Absolutely epic.

Also, it turns out the Tigerzord is capable of space travel. Reminds me of when the original Megazord had to go underwater…

In this issue we get a fight where Jason and the others pit their Omega Zords against the Blue Omega Zord, piloted by Garrison Vox. I suspect it’s because I’m not as familiar with the Omega Zords, but the whole thing came off like a big colorful blur. And I say that as a huge Daniele Di Nicuolo fan.

TITLE: Detective Comics #1021
AUTHOR: Peter Tomasi
ARTISTS:
Brad Walker, Andrew Hennessy (Inker), Brad Anderson (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer). Variant cover by Lee Bermejo.
RELEASED:
March 25, 2020

This whole “Two-Face starts a cult/religion” story makes a lot of sense to me. The world is complex, screwed up place. A simple flip-of-the-coin simplifies everything. At least in theory.

Okay…this is something I’ve been struggling to wrap my head around even though it’s been the case for a few years now: Harvey Dent knows Bruce’s secret. But Two-Face doesn’t. I like that idea, and it looks like we’ll be playing with it here.

Still liking this Walker/Hennessy/Anderson team. Looking forward to more.

TITLE: Action Comics #1021
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS:
John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson (Inker), Brad Anderson (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer). Variant cover by Lucio Parillo.
RELEASED: March 25, 2020

*Checks the solicitations for the next two issues*

Nope. Romita ain’t goin’ away any time soon.

The creative missteps in this book lately aren’t his alone, though. It ties into both Year of the Villain and Event Leviathan. Not to mention Young Justice. So if you don’t come into this story with at least a passing familiarity with those books, you’re pretty much screwed.

Still, I like what they did with the Red Cloud. She may or may not be riding the line between hero and villain as we move forward…

Email Rob at at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Weekly Comic 100s: Leviathan Dawn, Star Wars, and More!

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Raising a glass to Dan DiDio, who’s gone from DC as of last week.

The way some people are talking about this, you’d think he’d died or something. That’s obviously not the case. But it does feel like the end of an era. DiDio had been with DC for 18 years, starting as a vice president in 2002, then moving up to executive editor in 2004, before becoming co-publisher in 2010.

Coincidentally, 2002 was also the year I started buying comics on a weekly basis. So for yours truly, DiDio is particularly synonymous with DC. I remember reading his old “DC Nation” columns as far back as my college years, God help me.

So here’s to you, good sir. Thank you for the memories.

TITLE: Leviathan Dawn #1
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS: Alex Maleev, Joshua Reed (Letterer)
RELEASED: February 26, 2020

Despite the reveal of Leviathan’s identity being a letdown, Event Leviathan was a fun read. So I’m happy to see Bendis and Maleev back at it.

This issue sees the reformation of a group longtime DC readers will be familiar with. (The cover makes it pretty obvious.) The lineup is an odd assortment. Not characters you’d expect to see working together. But strange teams often make for compelling books.

The only person I might remove from the group is the Question. He’s better as a lone wolf.

TITLE: Star Wars #3
AUTHOR: Charles Soule
ARTISTS: Jesus Saiz, Arif Prianto (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by R.B. Silva and Guru-eFX.
RELEASED: February 26, 2020

This whole “going back to Cloud City” thing is still really stupid. Not quite as stupid as Luke getting a between-movies lightsaber. But close.

But we do get pretty great scene in this issue. One of our villains, Commander Zahra, reveals that the crew of her Star Destroyer consists of those who lost someone close to them on the Death Star. She frames the destruction of the space station as a massive tragedy caused by an act of cruelty from the other side. It’s much like Leia frames the destruction of Alderaan. It’s a really nice switch in perspective.

TITLE: Detective Comics #1020
AUTHOR: Peter Tomasi
ARTISTS: Brad Walker, Andrew Hennessy (Inker), Brad Anderson (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer). Variant cover by Lee Bermejo.
RELEASED: February 26, 2020

The other night a co-worker of mine, about 22-year-old, sees this cover. She then asks me: “Why does Batman look so fancy?” Oye. Kids…

For yours truly, Brad Walker’s stock is rising. Particularly as a Batman artist. He’s not a favorite of mine, per se. But he’s on his way.

Tomasi is doing a religion-themed story with Two-Face. We don’t get into the meat of it. Just a little scene as the issue ends. But I’m a sucker for that kinda stuff. So I’m anxious to see what the “Church of the Two” is about.

TITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #46
AUTHOR: Ryan Parrott
ARTISTS: Daniele Di Nicuolo. Walter Baiamonte (Colorist). Katia Ranalli (Color Assistant), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Cover by Jamal Campbell.
RELEASED:
February 26, 2020

In an issue that features the return of the Ranger Slayer (the cover pretty much gave it away) and the Gravezord, a very tense “sparring session” between Tommy and Jason, and a fight in an asteroid field, Zack and Adam steal the show with a single page of heart-to-heart conversation.

Sadly, via his Twitter Daniele Di Nicuolo has announced he’s ending his Power Rangers run soon. That’s a big loss, as he’s arguably the best artists BOOM! has had on this line. Not sure what issue is his last, but #50 seems as opportune a time as any.

TITLE: Action Comics #1020
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS: John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson (Inker), Brad Anderson (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer). Variant cover by Lucio Parillo.

Ugh. They dragged Young Justice into this?

Yeah, Action Comics is a little bit of a mess right now. Primarily because Romita is on a cold streak with these last several issues. But also, look at all the heavy hitters we’ve got in this story. The Justice League, the Legion of Doom, Leviathan, and now Young Justice. Metropolis is being decimated. Yet the high stakes aren’t coming across. It almost feels like business as usual. We also have Batman in another big dumb robot suit, which doesn’t help.

But next issue, the fight drags on. And I do mean drags.

TITLE: X-Men/Fantastic Four #2
AUTHOR: Chip Zdarsky
ARTISTS: Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson with Karl Story and Ransom Getty (Inkers), Laura Martin (Colorist), Joe Caramagna (Letterer).
RELEASED: February 26, 2020

What’s surprising me is how political this book is. Not in a real-world sense. But we’ve got the X-Men on their little island nation of Krakoa, and the fallout that comes from the Fantastic Four “invading.” Then we’ve got Doctor Doom on Latveria, and the risk of starting a war with Krakoa. The scope seems so much bigger than you’d think it would be.

Valera Richards refers to Doctor Doom as Uncle Doom? Well, it’s not like she was ever going to have a normal childhood…

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com.

Weekly Comic 100s: Star Wars, Frankenstein, Action Comics, and More!

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I was recently crushed to hear Go Go Power Rangers is ending in April. As I’ve said before, there’ve been plenty of months that book has outperformed the regular Mighty Morphin Power Rangers title. For awhile there, we were talking months at a time…

Thankfully, Ryan Parrott is staying with the Rangers for the foreseeable future. He’s been churning out amazing work since Go Go began, and he’s become BOOM’s go-to guy for Power Rangers content. Not only has he got the main book, but he’s writing the team up with the Ninja Turtles as well.

We’ll tip our hat to Go Go Power Rangers by leading off with it this week.

TITLE: Go Go Power Rangers #28
AUTHOR: Ryan Parrott
ARTISTS: Eduardo Francisco, Raul Angulo (Colors), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Cover by Eleonora Carlini.
RELEASED: January 29, 2020

Here we have a spotlight issue for Rita, where we see what was happening to her while she was imprisoned in that “space dumpster” for 10,000 years. Hint: If you’re an avid comic book fan, and the term “Black Mercy” means anything to you…

What I don’t like about this issue is how it portrays the inside of this prison. In theory it’s a dumpster, a place you put garbage. But inside it’s fairly high tech, with an A.I. overseeing everything. I always pictured the innards to be very dark and cave-like. Maybe that’s just me.

TITLE: Star Wars #2
AUTHOR: Charles Soule
ARTISTS:
Jesus Saiz, Arif Prianto (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by R.B. Silva.
RELEASED:
January 29, 2020

Just when I get excited about getting to see Luke do things without a lightsaber, the damn thing becomes a mcguffin in “The Destiny Path.”

God damn it.

On the plus side, they’ve put a nice focus on Lando thus far. It’s seemingly always been assumed that he instantly became a full-time good guy after seeing what happened to Han in Empire. But leopards rarely change their spots so quickly. And of course, Leia and the others would be rightfully wary of him afterward. For now, I’m willing to take the good with the bad on this book.

TITLE: Frankenstein Undone #1 (of 5)
AUTHORS: Mike Mignola, Scott Allie
ARTISTS: Ben Stenbeck, Brennan Wagner (Colorist), Clem Robins (Letterer)
RELEASED: January 29, 2020

I’m not nearly as versed in “the world of Hellboy” as I want to be. But apparently Frankenstein is part of that world. Having just read the book for the first time, this caught my interest.

The monster we meet is despondent over his actions during the events of the book. He opts to seclude himself in the far north. But solitude is not what he’ll find among the snow.

While we get some intriguing and well written pathos from our titular monster, I’m inclined to catch up with Mignola’s earlier works before diving back into this one.

TITLE: Action Comics #1019
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS: John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson (Inker), Brad Anderson (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer). Variant cover by Gabrielle Dell’otto.
RELEASED: January 29, 2020

I don’t get it. Generally speaking, I’m a John Romita Jr. fan. I’ve enjoyed his work on Kick-Ass, and his stuff at Marvel with Spider-Man, the Avengers, Hulk, etc. But for some reason, Romita and Superman mix like oil and water.

I truly hate to say this, but his art absolutely ruins this issue. What’s supposed to be this epic fight between the Justice League and the Legion of Doom looks downright sloppy. Brad Anderson’s work is especially wasted on this mess. It’s officially time to invoke a restraining order between Romita and the Man of Steel.

TITLE: Suicide Squad #2
AUTHOR: Tom Taylor
ARTISTS: Bruno Redondo, Adriano Lucas (Colorist), Wes Abbott (Letterer)
RELEASED:
January 29, 2020

I’ll give this book credit: I’m not hatin’ these new characters. This issue has an interaction between the Fin and the Shark that I really enjoyed.

I’m sure there are several Squad stories in existence where our anti-heroes want to kill one another, yet have to proceed with a mission. But this is the first one I can remember where the rivalries between the various members are so intensely personal. Combine that with Tom Taylor’s evident flair for black ops stories, along with some pretty awesome art, and we’ve got an exciting book on our hands.

TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #102
AUTHORS: Kevin Eastman (Consultant), Tom Waltz (Consultant), Sophie Campbell (Script)
ARTISTS: Campbell, Ronda Pattison (Colorist), Shawn Lee (Letterer).
RELEASED: January 29, 2020

Even with everything going on with Raph and Jennika in New York, I came away from this issue thinking about the other three Turtles. Once again, they’re secluded up at in Northampton.

I’m not sure we’ve ever seen the Ninja Turtles more collectively grief-stricken, and as such depressed. Most notably Michelangelo. The faces Sophie Campbell draws for him are almost devoid of life. Rarely has such amazing penciling prompted such a sad response.

But given what’s happened, it makes sense. It’s so relatable, it’s heart-breaking. Not bad for a book about mutant turtles…

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com.

Weekly Comic 100s: Shazam!, Killadelphia, MMPR

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Nothing too in-depth here. Just straight, concise, and to the point.***

***Author’s Note: If I display a variant cover, it’s because I purchased the issue in question with that cover.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Shazam! #8
AUTHOR: Geoff Johns
ARTISTS: Scott Kolins, Michael Atiyeh (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer). Variant cover by Michael Cho.
RELEASED: November 27, 2019

I’ve always admired the firm grasp Geoff Johns has on the less renowned DC characters like Green Lantern, the Teen Titans, and now Shazam. He can do anything…except get these books to come out on time.

This issue misses Dale Eaglesham, whose pencils have provided the sense of fun, adventure, and fantasy elements that define this book’s identity. Still, Scott Kolins is more than serviceable, especially during the scenes in the undead “Darklands” realm. Michael Atiyeh makes them very interesting from a color contrast standpoint. It’s like this bright red superhero has stepped into an old Universal monster movie.

TITLE: Killadelphia #1
AUTHOR: Rodney Barnes
ARTISTS:
Jason Shawn Alexander, LuisNCT (Colorist), Marshall Dillon (Letterer)
RELEASED:
November 27, 2019

I mean, c’mon. The title alone makes this worth a look.

If you’re into the stuff Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips do, you’ll like Killadelphia. Or at least this first issue. It’s got a great pulp-noir-meets-horror feel. A second generation cop investigates the most bizarre case his famous father ever worked. What he uncovers is, as the book itself puts it, “There are vampires in Philadelphia.”

Best page in the book? When our main character opens a door, sees a bunch of vampires hanging from the ceiling, and runs away in terror when they give chase…

TITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #45
AUTHOR: Ryan Parrott
ARTISTS: Daniele Di Nicuolo, Walter Baiamonte (Colorist), Katia Ranalli & Igor Monti (Color Assistants), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Cover by Jamal Campbell.
RELEASED: November 27, 2019

“Necessary Evil” progresses nicely with a great “heel turn” this month. Parrott and Di Nicuolo are usually my guys as far as PR comics go. But one particular moment felt wrong…

There’s a scene where Zordon, talking to the Red Omega Ranger (Does he know it’s Jason?), says that Lord Zedd is formidable, yet “an adversary I was confident that they could handle.” While I’m sure this isn’t how Parrott meant this, that makes it sound like Zordon considers Zedd more of a nuisance than a threat. Didn’t he originally describe Zedd’s arrival as “the thing I have feared most”?

TITLE: Action Comics #1017
AUTHOR:
Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS:
John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson (Inker), Brad Anderson (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer)
RELEASED:
November 27, 2019

On page one, panel one, we get a big dumb Batman robot suit. For me, that’s about the worst way to start an issue of anything.

This issue does a nice job forwarding the “Invisible Mafia” story as it crosses over with the “Year of the Villain” stuff. It looks like we’ve got a big Justice League vs. Legion of Doom fight coming at us next time.

Justice League hasn’t been on my pull list since “YOTV” started. *sigh* I suppose I should probably catch up if I’m going to fully grasp what’s happening with Lex  and the gang.

TITLE: Detective Comics #1016
AUTHOR: Peter Tomasi
ARTISTS:
Doug Mahnke, Tyler Kirkham (Co-Penciller and Co-Inker), Christian Alamy (Co-Inker), Keith Champagne (Co-Inker), Mark Irwin (Co-Inker), David Baron, (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer)
RELEASED: November 27, 2019

Ugh. There’s another stupid modified Batsuit in this issue. What happened to the Hellbat armor Tomasi used in Batman & Robin and Superman? Wouldn’t a modified version have worked here?

Bad costume notwithstanding, I love the way this Victor/Nora story ends. “A vicious circle,” as Batman calls it. Tomasi also works in an amazing callback to a New 52 event. Continuity, ladies and gentlemen. Use it well, and it’ll do wonders for you.

This story leaves Mr. Freeze’s status quo dramatically altered. Now it’s just a question of how long DC keeps it that way.

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Best of Batman & Superman: Action Comics #654

***Batman and Superman are friends. It’s an unlikely friendship, and one that can put them at odds. But ultimately, it’s a friendship based on mutual respect and trust. With Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice on the horizon, we’re going to hear a lot about these two fighting. “Best of Batman & Superman” will show us the opposite end of the spectrum. These are the moments that showed us why Superman and Batman are better friends than enemies.***

Action Comics #654TITLE: Action Comics #654
AUTHOR: Roger Stern
PENCILLER: Bob McLeod, Brett Breeding. Cover by Kerry Gamill.
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
ORIGINAL PRICE: $0.75
RELEASED: June 1990

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

The Kryptonite ring. A weapon given to Batman by Superman in the event he were to ever be the victim of mind control. But it’s so much more than that, isn’t it? It’s a symbol of trust between the world’s finest heroes. It represents Superman’s faith in Batman, his understanding of his own power, and his willingness to sacrifice himself for the greater good. It also represents the necessary cynicism that makes Batman who he is. It gives him the responsibility of keeping Superman’s power in check, and guarding the Earth’s greatest guardian.

Over the years, many a creative team has made use of the Kryptonite ring. Perhaps the most notable was Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee in Batman: Hush. But it’s presence has been felt in stories like Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (also by Loeb), Infinite Crisis, and Superman and the Legion of Superheroes. Chip Kidd and Alex Ross also did a short story based around the concept for Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross. It even survived the New 52 reboot. The concept has been resilient for so many years because it’s a good one. It makes sense.

Action Comics #654, 1990And it all began right here in Action Comics #654.

The story, “Dark Knight Over Metropolis,” was a crossover between SupermanThe Adventures of Superman, and Action Comics. So it ended up being the work of three different teams. But the story’s enduring legacy comes from its final two pages, so that’s what we’ll be looking at for the most part.

I wish I could say “Dark Knight Over Metropolis” was an amazing story. But in truth it’s mostly underwhelming. Things also get convoluted when subplots involving Integrant, Cat Grant, and the street-level hero Gangbuster are woven in. But here are the important details: At a murder scene in Gotham City, Batman discovers a mysterious radioactive ring among the victim’s possessions. Batman’s investigation leads him to Metropolis, where he teams up with Superman and learns the ring is made of Kryptonite and was created by Lex Luthor. Batman keeps his possession of the ring a secret from Superman, but turns it over to him when the case is closed.

It’s important to note that these are the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths Superman and Batman. A few years after their first meeting in The Man of Steel #3, they’re still chilly toward one another. The story makes it clear they don’t always appreciate one another’s methods. But they know one another’s identities, and obviously have a kind of professional courtesy going.

Action Comics #864, Kryptonite ring sceneThe pivotal moment in the issue happens after Bruce Wayne and Alfred have returned to Gotham. They suddenly find themselves with an uninvited guest in the Batcave. Batman descends into the cave to find Superman waiting for him. Bob McLeod and Brett Breeding give us a striking shot of Superman standing amongst some of Batman’s trophies. From a writing standpoint, it’s an interesting power play to have Superman simply show up in the Batcave because he can. Obviously he means no harm, but it’s a nice reminder that he can catch Batman off guard when he wants to.

Superman says that while many think Batman is insane, he’s come to believe Batman is simply a sane man trying to bring justice to an insane world. He talks about living in fear that one day one of his enemies may gain control over him. If that were to ever happen, there’d be only one way of stopping him. With that, he pulls out a lead box with the Kryptonite inside.

The story ends with the line that makes the entire story: “I want the means to stop me to be in the hands of a man I can trust with my life.”

At only three pages, this is a pretty modest scene, considering what’s happening. But there’s something to be said for keeping things concise. Had they known they were making history with this scene, I’m sure they would have upped the ante a little bit.

“Dark Knight Over Metropolis” is an unremarkable story that pays off with one of the great gems in the history of the Superman/Batman partnership. For that reason alone, it’s worth a read. Thankfully, DC reprinted it a few years ago in a trade of the same name.

For more of “Best of Batman & Superman,” check out Gotham Knights #27 and Superman #165.

Image 1 from superman86to99.tumblr.com. Images 2 from asylums.insanejournal.com. 

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Superman Against Police Brutality – An Action Comics #42 Review

Action Comics #42 coverTITLE: Action Comics #42
AUTHOR: Greg Pak
PENCILLER: Aaron Kuder
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: July 1, 2015

Miss last issue? Check out Action Comics #41.

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Superman vs. The Cops. Yeesh. Well, it’s timely. You can’t fault them for not being relevant…

Indeed, in the year that the town of Ferguson became synonymous with racial prejudice and police brutality, and headlines continue to pop up about cops going too far, Superman finds himself standing between the police and innocent people. While I’m still not a big fan of the de-powered “Tough Guy Superman” approach, this is very much in line with what a Superman comic should be. The Man of Steel taking on issues that effect real people.

As Superman, whose identity has been exposed to the world, battles a monster made of “solidified shadow,” the Metropolis police descend on the citizens assembled in “Kentville.” Now the question is, can Superman protect these people? And what will he have to do to accomplish that?

Action Comics #42, chainsGreg Pak and Aaron Kuder return Superman to his roots here as a champion for the oppressed and defenseless. As we see police in riot gear attempt to tear gas civilians, our hero is set up in a somewhat contrived, yet visually arresting scenario. He wraps himself in a giant chain and creates a barrier between the police and the citizens. He then takes repeated shots to the face from gimmicked up S.W.A.T. team guys. It’s hokey, but it creates the sense of drama and sacrifice they’re going for. And of course, the chain harkens back to the tried-and-true image of Superman snapping the chains off his body.

To be fair, the police aren’t completely demonized here. We see reluctance among the cops, and some of them acknowledge how Superman has saved them in the past. But the bad apples spoil the bunch. We also see the civilians debating whether they should fight back, so the hostility isn’t entirely one-sided. But it’s fairly obvious what this issue is meant to be. The police are the bad guys. One can definitely argue whether this is in good taste, but I think much depends on how the in-story conflict is resolved. We end on a rather dramatic image, so we’ll obviously be seeing more of this next month.

Action Comics #42, splashAs far as Clark Kent himself is concerned, the man we see here is more likeable than the one we saw last issue. While issue #41 saw him using mild profanity, and at one point talking like he was in a gritty noir comic, he feels more like Clark here. He still has more of a cynical edge to him. But he doesn’t feel as darkened here. At one point they actually have him hogtie the big monster he’s fighting, i.e. “farm boy.” That’s a little on the nose, but I prefer that to what we saw last issue. Action Comics #41 felt like we were reading the exploits of a different character. This issue feels like a Superman comic. That’s a very welcome change. If it’s not Superman, this whole Truth thing doesn’t even matter, does it?

Pak and Kuder will have me back for next month. For my money, culturally relevant Superman beats sci-fi monster battling Superman any day. Tough Guy Superman? That’s another story. But the intrigue of how they’ll follow this issue is too much to resist.

Image 1 from nothingbutcomics.net. Image 2 from kotaku.com.

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An Action Comics #41 Review – The Supercycle?

Action Comics #41 coverTITLE: Action Comics #41
AUTHOR: Greg Pak
PENCILLER: Aaron Kuder
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: June 3, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

For better or worse, the glasses are off, folks.

Action Comics #41 is the first issue to be published as part of the Truth storyline. Thanks to an expose written by Lois Lane in The Daily Planet, the world now knows Clark Kent is Superman. When we open the issue, an injured Clark is walking back from a fight of some kind, with fewer powers than he’s ever had. He has some of his strength, he can leap great distances, and has some of his speed. The world’s most powerful man is now a marked man, and he’s more vulnerable than he’s ever been. In his new exposed state, Superman will find both unexpected friends and enemies.

The Truth storyline as a whole seems to be an attempt to not only “humanize” Superman more, but to darken him up. Both have been tried before, with varying degrees of success. In Superman #40, John Romita Jr. seemed to be trying to de-humanize Superman in order to make this transformation more meaningful. Apparently, New 52 Superman couldn’t taste food or get hungry. In a bizarre scene, Romita even had him get drunk with the Justice League.

Action Comics #41, page 2There are some more groaners in this issue, as Clark uses a little bit of salty language. Nothing too harsh. Stuff like “Can’t even really feel my damn fingers right now.” Some might say this is too boy scoutish, but I’m not a fan of Superman swearing. At least not unless he’s got a really good reason. Then a few pages later he gets into a fight with some thugs at a gas station and rides off on a motorcycle (the Supercycle?). Parts of this issue almost feel like a noir comic.

Superman is wearing a t-shirt and jeans now, much like he was drawn in 2011’s Action Comics #1. The cape is gone, reduced to rags that he has wrapped around his knuckles. His shirt features the famous “S” symbol as red and black, instead of the classic red and gold. Again, a darkening of the character. His hair has also been cut, which is actually an improvement in my book. One can argue his appearance is a little on the nose in terms of the “Superman is just like you!” agenda. But then again, does a hero like Superman really need a costume if his identity is public?

None of this stuff is outright offensive, and I do like the concept of the Truth story. But the impression I get from this issue is that they’re trying to play Superman off as a bad ass. And that’s really not what Superman is about. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: He’s an idealist. Truth, justice, peace, etc. If you want to see how the public reacts when they see who this iconic figure is in day-to-day life, that’s one thing. And putting him in a t-shirt and jeans does make him seem like more of a man of the people. But there’s a grittiness at play here that doesn’t feel true to Superman.

Action Comics #41, hungryDC has been trying to shoehorn more dark elements into the Superman mythos for years. For my money, that’s always been a product of writers not knowing what to do with the character. Point blank: Superman can be a hard character to write. But it can be done. Hell, Geoff Johns just had a great little run with Superman. It just seems to be a matter of knowing where the intrigue lies, and how to create drama with him.

This issue also suffers from timing problems. Divergence and preview materials notwithstanding, we don’t know what’s happened to Superman leading up to this issue. He’s apparently been locked out of the Fortress of Solitude and stripped of his costume, but we won’t see that until Superman #41 on June 24. The issue also references something that happens next month in Superman #42. In essence, we’re coming into this issue missing a lot of important information.

Still, the central story in this issue, Clark returning to Metropolis, is interesting. Certain people are on his side, and certain people aren’t. The public’s reaction to Clark being outed, which I suspect is a major part of what we’ll see in Action going forward, is compelling.

I’ll give this issue credit. Despite the groan factor of Superman riding a motorcycle, and talking like a gritty detective, it’s got me interested in what the other ramifications of Clark’s “outing” will be. I’ll be glancing at Batman/Superman and Superman/Wonder Woman for the first time in months. Truth has the potential to bring a lot of new eyes to the Superman books. But if they go too far in the wrong direction, they’ll send those eyes rolling somewhere else.

Image 1 from newsarama.com. Image 2 from adventuresinpoortaste.com.

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A Nightwing & Flamebird, Vol. 2 Review – Rao Lives Again!

Nightwing & Flamebird, Vol. 2TITLE: Superman: Nightwing & Flamebird, Vol. 2
AUTHORS: James Robinson, Greg Rucka, Eric Trautmann.
PENCILLERS: Pere Perez, Bernard Chang, Pier Gallo. Cover by Alex Garner.
COLLECTS: Action Comics #883-889, Superman #696, Adventure Comics #8-10
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $24.99
RELEASE DATE: October 6, 2010

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Of all places to wage war against a Kryptonian god, Iran is probably in my bottom five. I imagine that’s how Nightwing & Flamebird feel in this book.

In the second of two volumes collecting their adventures, the duo of Nightwing (Chris Kent, Clark Kent and Lois Lane’s adopted son, and General Zod’s biological son) & Flamebird (Kryptonian Thara Ak Var) are still fugitives. They must quietly consult with Dr. Light and S.T.A.R. Labs when Nightwing suddenly begins to age rapidly. They meet a renowned geneticist, who turns out to be Jax-Ur, a Kryptonian sleeper General Zod has planted on Earth. Jax Ur creates a bastardized version of Rao, the Kryptonian god, and unleashes it in Iran. Nightwing & Flamebird are forced into the center of a battle that also attracts Wonder Woman, and members of the Justice Society. All the while, Lois Lane covers the fight and reports the truth, much to the chagrin of her own government.

Adventure Comics #9, Pier GalloAfter that story, we switch gears completely. In a short story, we meet Car-Vex, another Kryptonian sleeper tasked by General Zod with penetrating General Lane’s organization. We feel her inner turmoil as she’s forced to betray members of her own species in attempt to win a larger battle. Written by Eric Trautmann and drawn by Pier Gallo, it’s actually the strongest material in the book.

The Nightwing & Flamebird section of DC’s New Krypton storyline may have been the weakest one. Thara Ak Var fell a little flat with me as Flamebird. That’s not entirely Greg Rucka’s fault. We knew who Chris Kent was from the Geoff Johns/Richard Donner run on Action Comics. We were already invested in him because of his relationship to Superman, Lois Lane, and General Zod. Thara didn’t have that advantage. She had some great moments with Supergirl, but I still don’t feel like I know her as a character. We know she’s a passionate person, who loves Chris and believes the spirit of the Flamebird is with her. With all that was happening in the single issues, as well as the over-arcing New Krypton storyline, Rucka didn’t necessarily have time to distinguish her from DC’s other young female heroes. The stories still work, but I wasn’t as invested in them as I was in say, Mon El’s in Superman.

Action Comics #887, RaoMidway through the story, Rucka has to get a lot of exposition out, in the form of the Nightwing & Flamebird myth from Kryptonian mythology. He devotes about half an issue to it. It’s not thrilling reading. But it’s not terrible either, and it’s necessary to set up the fight against Jax-Ur and Rao. Unfortunately, the finale felt stale to me. It’s essentially a bunch of heroes against a hundred-foot-tall invincible giant. It’s not that exciting. Plus, the end comes as a result of something established in the exposition, and not necessarily a result of Chris and Thara’s efforts. It’s a logical ending, and it fits. But in terms of storytelling, it’s strictly okay.

Also, a hundred-foot god showing up in the middle of Iran certainly warrants the presence of multiple heroes. But I can’t help but feel Wonder Woman and the JSA were thrown in strictly to add star power to a stale story.

There’s a bit of foreshadowing for Superman: Last Stand of New Krypton in this book, but it’s not  integral to the overall story. Like James Robinson in Mon El, Vol. 2: Man of Valor, it seems like Rucka had to fit a story very large in scope into a limited number of issues. While necessary, it’s ultimately a little sad. We’ve all seen Rucka do better than this, and I wish he could’ve gotten that chance.

RATING: 5.5/10

Image 1 from comicboxcommentary.blogspot.com. Image 2 from babblingaboutdccomics3.wordpress.com.

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