Astonishing Art: Batman by Russ Braun

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

You never know what you’ll see when you follow a comic book artist on Instagram.

Case in point, this little gem of a sketch from Russ Braun. Here we have the Adam West Batman, drawn in the style of Batman: Year One, a la David Mazzucchelli.

Batman, Adam West, by Russ Braun

You know what this makes me want to see? A Batman: Year one story set in the Batman ’66 universe. I’d lap that up.

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

Epic Covers: Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #4 by David Nakayama

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Does Zatanna get enough love? Probably not. She’s DC’s resident sorceress, and has powers that rival pretty much anyone in the DC Universe. Plus, she’s got that classy, vintage pin-up girl vibe going for her. There’s a lot to like.

David Nakayama does his part to show Zatanna some love this week with a variant cover to Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #4. There’s an obvious sexiness to it. But what I like is the pose, with the hand reaching out at the reader, combined with the star effect. The character also looks good in blue, which is a contrast to the black hat and coat we usually see her in.

Interestingly enough, Nakayama opted to give her pants as opposed to her trademark fishnets. Call it a more modern look.

Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths 4, variant cover, 2022, David Nakayama, Zatanna

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

Astonishing Art: Neal Adams Draws Star Wars

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The comic book industry continues to miss the legendary Neal Adams, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 80. The world of comic books will likely always miss him. Recently, I found myself missing him a little bit more when I stumbled on to this little gem…

I was totally unaware that Adams had done any Star Wars work. But low and behold, here we have a variant cover for Marvel’s adaptation of The Force Awakens from 2016 (shown below left). I love the red trail that he gives Kylo Ren’s lightsaber. That’s a unique little touch we don’t see too often. And just to see him render Kylo and the stormtroopers is fun.

For those with more of a taste for the classic trilogy, Adams would go on to do a variant cover for Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters – Alpha (shown below right), which allowed him to draw Boba Fett.

It’s a shame Adams didn’t get a chance to visit the Star Wars universe more often. It looked damn good under his pencil. Then again, most things did…

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

Astonishing Art: Mr. Freeze by Mano Ramirez

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I’m a sucker for Mike Mignola’s Mr. Freeze design from Batman: The Animated Series. It’s got a great vintage sci-fi space suit look to it. The red eyes are awesome too. It’s not a coincidence that the look coincides with the character’s whole renaissance that came about after the pivotal episode “Heart of Ice.”

So when I saw this portrait from Mano Ramirez, I jumped at it. The age that Ramirez injects into the character’s face adds a realism that’s very complimentary.

Mr. Freeze, Mano Ramirez

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

Astonishing Art: Starlight by Anthony Helmer

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I must confess, I’m far from caught up on The Boys. Truth be told, I haven’t even finished the first season. But I can still recognize great art when I see it.

That’s exactly what we get here from Anthony Helmer. He captures just enough of actress Erin Moriarty in this image, while still doing his own thing. When you’re drawing from life, that’s one of the hallmarks of a great artist.

Anthony Helmer, Starlight

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

Weekly Comic 100s: Robin #1

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Robin #1
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS: Gleb Melnikov, Troy Peteri (Letterer)
RELEASED: April 27, 2021

It’s good to have a Robin series again. This is one of those books that should always be around in some form.

Gleb Melnikov is really good, handling the pencils, inks, and colors. There’s a little bit of Greg Capullo in there, I think…

It feels serendipitous that this issue, about Damian Wayne entering a combat tournament, came out around the same time as the new Mortal Kombat movie. And at our end cliffhanger, we get a moment that wouldn’t be out of place in the bloody, gory world of Mortal Kombat.

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

Weekly Comic 100s: Justice League #60

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Justice League #60
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS: David Marquez, Tamra Bonvillain (Colorist), Josh Reed (Letterer)
RELEASED: April 20, 2021

Having “Bendis banter” in a Justice League book takes a little getting used to. But all in all I think Bendis is proving to be a good fit for the League, just like he was a good fit for Superman.

On that topic, David Marquez draws a hell of a Man of Steel. Pay attention to him in the group shots. There’s an earnestness to him that you don’t often see, but suits the character perfectly.

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

A TMNT/Ghostbusters Deep-Dive Review – Bustin’ in a Half Shell

TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters #14
AUTHORS: Erik Burnham, Tom Waltz
ARTIST: Dan Schoening
GUEST ARTISTS: Charles Paul Wilson III, Cory Smith, Ronda Pattison (Colorist)
COLORIST: Luis Delgado
LETTERER: Neil Uyetake
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
COLLECTED IN: Paperback, Deluxe EditionTMNT: The IDW Collection, Vol. 5
RELEASED: October 2014 – January 2015

***New around here? Check out Primary Ignition’s TMNT Deep-Dive Review archive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

If you were a kid in the ’80s or ’90s, chances are you’ll find something appealing at IDW Publishing. That’s not me kissing ass. It’s simply the law of averages. Their collection of licenses includes Transformers, My Little Pony, Sonic the Hedgehog, Back to the Future, among others. That’s to say nothing of two iconic staples of the ’80s: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Ghostbusters.

And of course, IDW loves them a good crossover. It was only a matter of time before the boys in green met the boys in grey.

So what do people want to see from a story like this? What’s the appeal of a crossover? The answer is fans like it when things…well, cross over. We like to see different characters from different worlds meet, interact, team up, or even fight. Often it’s a combination of all four.

But how do you mash up the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Ghostbusters? On the surface, they have very little in common.

The answer is: Find common ground. Take something the two properties have in common and use it to bring them together. Thus the question becomes, what do the TMNT and the GBs have in common? Well, simply at face value…

  • They’re both four-man teams.
  • They both fight the supernatural and/or the extraordinary.
  • They’re both from New York City.

That, especially that third point, is apparently a good enough starting point. TMNT/Ghostbusters sees an accident with the Turtles’ dimensional portal send them to the Ghostbusters’ incarnation of New York. The accident also frees Chi-You, a Chinese warrior god hell bent on ruling the Earth. Caught up in his plot is none other than a demonically possessed Casey Jones.

These issues feel very much like the Turtles are guest-starring in a Ghostbusters story. That’s because artistic team behind IDW’s Ghostbusters books, penciller Dan Schoening, colorist Luis Delgado, and letterer Neil Uyetake handle most of the pages. The common threads between IDW’s Ghostbusters and TMNT books? Tom Waltz, who co-authored TMNT with Kevin Eastman, was the editor on Ghostbusters. Ghostbusters author Erik Burnham had worked on plenty of supplemental material for the TMNT series as well. So the ground was fertile for a crossover.

Said crossover is in good hands. Over the last decade, Burnham, Schoening, Delgado, and Uyetake have been responsible for what in my opinion are the best Ghostbusters comics ever made. All parties involved clearly had a reverence for the source material, and Burnham was turning in amazing scripts.

But what really sets the material apart is Schoening and Delgado. As is the case with TMNT comics, my argument when it comes to Ghostbusters comics is that a lot rides on how you draw the heroes themselves. Because of likeness issues, most pre-Shoening artists tended to draw the movie-based Ghostbusters as guys who looked loosely like the actors. As in this case the characters are so closely identified with their performers (Can you picture someone other than Bill Murray playing Peter Venkman?), what we got were essentially Ghostbusters stories with characters who looked like they were standing in for the genuine article. 

Then along came Shoening who took a more animated, cartoony approach to the movie Ghostbusters. His Egon Spengler doesn’t look like Harold Ramis. But like an impressionist channeling a specific person, he captures the feel of the characters in a way no other artist ever has. So to see him take on the Ghostbusters and the Ninja Turtles, in the same story no less, is very special.

Issues #2 and #3 are where we get a lot of those “common ground” scenes. The two teams share pizza in the firehouse. Donatello compares tech geek notes with Ray. Raph and Venkman make wisecracks to each other. And of course, we get our first obligatory shot of a Ninja Turtle wearing a proton pack. Along those lines, Cory Smith’s variant cover for issue #3 (shown left) is my favorite in the entire series. If you’re an ’80s or ’90s kid, the smart bet is this would have made your head explode back then.

By villain standards, Chi-You isn’t very memorable at all. He’s essentially a generic, grand-standing, monolouging bad guy. He does, however, manage to look pretty bad ass in Casey Jones’ hockey mask. But the strange thing about this story is that the bad guy is almost an afterthought. The main event is that interaction between the two teams. With only four issues to work with, you almost don’t have the time to properly build up a brand new villain while still delivering on what fans want to see from a crossover.

And did Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters deliver on what fans wanted to see? I’d say so. I’d like to think no one realistically came into this thing expecting a grand masterpiece. But it wasn’t a small task either. It’s job was to deliver on a scenario dreamed up by many an ’80s or ’90s kid: What if the Ninja Turtles met the Ghostbusters? And the answer we get is perfectly serviceable. It isn’t contrived, or forced, or hokey, or stupid, all of which it easily could have been. The IDW crew delivered on the crossover, just like they delivered on the two books individually.

What more could a kid who grew up watching these characters on worn out VHS tapes possibly ask for?

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

Weekly Comic 100s: Batman: The Detective #1

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Batman: The Detective #1 (of 6)
AUTHOR: Tom Taylor
ARTISTS: Andy Kubert, Brad Anderson (Colorist), Clem Robins (Letterer)
RELEASED: April 13, 2021

I was tempted to close this one early. Not because this isn’t a talented creative team. It just isn’t my cup of tea. Not just because Batman is wearing the ridiculous jacket and goggles, but because it feels like Tom Taylor is doing his best Frank Miller impression. The dialogue and narration is very terse and blunt, and there’s no shortage of blood. Bruce Wayne even has a military-style short haircut for no apparent reason. Kubert’s work is fine, but the fact that he did DKIII makes this feel all the more Miller-ish.

I’ll pass, thanks.

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