Weekly Comic 100s: Dr. Strange, Spider-Ham, Shazam!

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

As promised, this week I’ve padded the rather slim pickings from December 26 with some leftovers from December 19.

By the way, folks, I tried to read Incoming!, the big issue that’s supposed to lead us into what Marvel’s doing in 2020. But I couldn’t get through it. It’s all supposed to link back to a mysterious murder, which was intriguing enough. But the massive scope of the story, with all the different plot threads and characters, was just too much to follow.

Thankfully, Marvel is pretty well represented this week…

TITLE: Dr. Strange #1
AUTHOR: Mark Waid
ARTISTS: Kev Walker, Java Tartaglia (Colorist), Cory Petit (Letterer). Cover by Phil Noto.
RELEASED: December 26, 2019

The twist here is that Stephen Strange now has use of his hands again. Now he can resume his work as a surgeon, while continuing on as a master of the mystic arts.

I’m not much of a Doctor Strange fan. But I can’t find much to fault this issue for. The opening page is its best. It’s got a Twilight Zone feel to it, while also reminding me of one of the opening splash pages for an issue of Saga.

I don’t feel a huge pull to come back next issue. But what the hell? I won’t rule it out.

TITLE: Spider-Ham #1 (of 5)
AUTHOR:
Zeb Wells
ARTISTS:
Will Robson, Erick Arciniega (Colorist), Joe Caramagna (Letterer). Cover by Wendell Dalit.
RELEASED: December 26, 2019

For yours truly, the biggest surprise coming out of Spider-Ham #1 was that our titular character is on a team with other anthropomorphic animal heroes. Iron Mouse, Squawkeye, Quacksilver, etc. Basically the same Looney Tunes concept, but with the Avengers.

If you like this sort of thing, or enjoyed the character in Into the Spider-Verse, then this Spider-Ham miniseries should be right up your alley. Me? While the issue was fine, I’ll take a pass on this one.

TITLE: Shazam #9
AUTHOR:
Geoff Johns
ARTISTS: Marco Santucci, Scot Kolins, Dale Eaglesham, Michael Atiyeh (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer). Variant cover by Kaare Andrews.
RELEASED: December 18, 2019

Most of this book takes place in the “Wozenderlands,” an amalgamation of the worlds of The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland. We’re told there was a “crisis,” and the worlds had to be merged. So essentially, it was Crisis on Infinite Earths, but with these fairy tale settings and characters.

That is so friggin’ random, that I absolutely love it. Who in the hell could have called this? All the while, we continue to advance the story of Billy Batson and his family. Truly, Shazam! has become one of the best books DC has right now.

TITLE: Batman/Superman #5
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS: David Marquez, Alejandro Sanchez (Colorist), John J. Hill (Letterer)
RELEASED: December 18, 2019

This whole “Secret Six” thing ended up not being the mystery I wanted it to be. And at times Williamson’s dialogue is a little awkward. But at the end of the day, this first story arc was fine. I did love the nice little “trust moment” he gave our titular characters in this issue.

I also feel like I haven’t heaped enough praise on David Marquez and Alejandro Sanchez. They’ve put together an absolutely beautiful book. Marquez can make virtually anything look good. Whether he’s working in the DC, Marvel, any other universe.

TITLE: Star Wars: Empire Ascendant
AUTHORS: Charles Soule, Greg Pak, Ethan Sacks, Simon Spurrier
ARTISTS: Luke Ross, Roland Boschi, Paolo Villanelli, Caspar Wijngaard. Cover by Ricardo Federici.
COLORISTS: Guru-eFX, Rachelle Rosenberg, Arif Prianto, Lee Loughridge
LETTERERS: Clayton Cowles, Travis Lanham
RELEASED: December 18, 2019

Empire Ascendant serves as a bridge into the four new Star Wars books Marvel’s releasing in the near future. Apparently they all take place after The Empire Strikes Back, as opposed to the previous ones, which were set beforehand.

We get four short stories set just before Empire. Not a lot from the main characters, Luke, Leia, etc. But if you give it a chance, this stuff actually has some meat to it. My personal favorite is the set-up for the Bounty Hunters series. I think The Mandalorian has wet the fandom’s collective appetite for more stuff like that.

TITLE: Family Tree #2
AUTHOR: Jeff Lemire
ARTISTS: Phil Hester, Eric Gapstur (Inker), Ryan Cody (Colorist), Steve Wands (Letterer)
RELEASED: December 18, 2019

Family Tree needs to be careful it doesn’t accidentally become a comedy.

It’s meant to be a horror/adventure comic about people being forcibly changed into trees. But there’s a flashback in this issue where Judd, the book’s resident grizzled old man character, is caring for a fully transformed…uh…tree person? When the tree tries to talk back to Judd, I couldn’t help it. My funny bone was tickled a bit. I still buy Family Tree as the horror story it’s trying to be. But sometimes there’s a thin like between horror and hilarity.

TITLE: The Low, Low Woods #1
AUTHOR: Carmen Maria Machado
ARTISTS:
Dani, Tamra Bonvillain (Colorist), Steve Wands (Letterer). Cover by J.A.W. Cooper.
RELEASED:
December 18, 2019

This feels like a Stephen King story. (Heh…)

The Low, Low Woods takes place in 1997, which hits a nostalgic soft spot for me. There’s a lot of exposition in this issue. We learn about a small town forever changed by a raging fire, and two teenage girls who discover some gory surprises.

If you like this sort of thing, I’d definitely recommend it. For me personally, this issue is a little low on intrigue. But the characters and the setting are interesting enough to at least get me to consider coming back for issue #2.

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

Weekly Comic 100s: Star Wars Finale, Batman/Superman, The Question

*”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.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Star Wars #75
AUTHOR:Greg Pak
ARTISTS: Phil Noto, Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
RELEASED: November 20, 2019

A fine way to end the series. Great pacing, mixed with good character work and some nice action scenes. Once again, Greg Pak and Phil Noto shine a glowing spotlight on Chewbacca and C-3PO. What’s more, they find a way to subtly weave the tragedy of Darth Vader into everything. (See the closing page.)

In particular, I’m sad to see Pak go. He’s proven here that he knows how to tell a good Star Wars story. And as we’ve learned through a couple of the recent movies, that’s not something everyone can do.

TITLE: Batman/Superman #4
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson
PENCILLER:
David Marquez, Alejandro Sanchez (Colorist), John J. Hill (Letterer)
RELEASED:
November 20, 2019

In this issue we learn the identities of the six “Jokerized” heroes, a.k.a. the “Secret Six.” They didn’t play it up as a mystery the way I hoped they would. It was essentially reveal after reveal after reveal. A disappointing execution for what is still a compelling story concept.

Can we come up with a nickname for the Batman Who Laughs? Saying the whole thing every time makes for awkward dialogue. (“Don’t listen to the Batman Who Laughs, Donna!”) If this guy’s sticking around for the long haul, that’s something that needs to be fixed.

TITLE: Batman #83
AUTHOR: Tom King
ARTISTS: Mikel Janin, Jordie Bellaire (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
RELEASED: November 20, 2019

This is the issue where Bruce finally discovers what’s happened to Alfred. Keep in mind it happened back in August. That tells you all you need to know about whether they’re padding this thing out…

As a framing device, the issue uses a recording of Alfred. I always like when writers use Alfred’s journal like that, so King’s twist on it was cool. Janin has the unenviable, yet in the end quite successful task of showing us Batman grieving for several pages.

I’ve been ready for this climactic battle for awhile now. So let’s get on with it, shall we?

TITLE: Something is Killing the Children #3
AUTHOR: James Tynion IV
ARTISTS: Werther Dell-edera, Miquel Muerto (Colorist), Andworld Design (Lettering)
RELEASED: November 20, 2019

After a very strong opening page, and our longest scene yet with one of the monsters, we spend the bulk of the issue with our heroine, the bad-ass Erica Slaughter. There’s an eight-page sequence with her in a police station that’s a lot of fun.

We still don’t know much about…anything. What these monsters are, who Erica is, who she’s working for, etc. Sometimes that sort of mystery works, sometimes it doesn’t. It works here. The nervous dynamic James has with Erica doesn’t hurt in that regard. It’s not romantic. But it’s cute in its own way.

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

Weekly Comic 100s: Event Leviathan, Family Tree, Power Rangers

*”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.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Event Leviathan #6
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS: Alex Maleev, Josh Reed (Letterer)
RELEASED: November 13, 2019

So Leviathan turns out to be [name redacted for spoilers’ sake]…

Who the @#$% is that?

I’m always annoyed when big mystery comics do this. They build the bad guy’s identity up for weeks and weeks and weeks…and then it’s somebody we have to go to Wikipedia to learn about. *head on table*

Event Leviathan was a fun, suspenseful read, with some fun ideas. All the secret organizations (A.R.G.U.S., Task Force X, etc) being shut down, detectives from across the DC Universe coming together. But they really needed to stick the landing here. They didn’t.

TITLE: Superman #17
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS: Kevin Maguire, Paul Mounts (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer). Cover by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Alex Sinclair.
RELEASED: November 13, 2019

I’m always happy to find a Kevin Maguire book in my weekly stack. Though some of the sillier expressions we get here don’t necessarily mesh with the foreboding tone the issue seems to be going for.

The issue is titled “The Truth: Prologue.” They never specifically learn what said truth is. But I’m hoping it’s not what it looks like. If it is, we may be headed toward a rehash of the New Krypton storyline they did about a decade ago. If that’s the case, then I’m leaving Superman on the stands for awhile.

TITLE: Family Tree #1
AUTHOR:
Jeff Lemire
ARTISTS: Phil Hester, Eric Gapstur (Inker), Ryan Cody (Colorist)
RELEASED: November 13, 2019

I imagine the pitch for this must have been simply, “Girl becomes tree.” In the end, that’s all you need, isn’t it? Like “Weekly Comic 100s,” it’s straight and to the point.

But to their credit, Jeff Lemire, Phil Hester, and the Family Tree team got me to care about these characters. I consider that a pretty big achievement, as this premise could have come off comical. I’m not sure if it was enough to hook me for issue #2. But I’m definitely curious…

TITLE: Go Go Power Rangers #25
AUTHORS: Ryan Parrott, Sina Grace
ARTISTS: Francesco Mortarino, Raul Angulo (Colorist), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Cover by J Lou.
RELEASED: November 13, 2019

This “Necessary Evil” storyline between Go Go and the main MMPR book is essentially the BOOM! crew’s take on why Jason, Zack, and Trini really left during season two, and what they were doing. It’s obviously a better story than the show could tell us at that time.

I love the respect this book shows for the show. It takes place during the events of “White Light, Part I.” At one point, it briefly depicts a scene from that episode, and makes a point of using the actual dialogue that’s in the show. Those little details mean so much sometimes…

TITLE: Detective Comics #1015
AUTHOR: Peter Tomasi
ARTISTS: Doug Mahnke, Jose Luis, Christian Alamy (Co-Inker), Keith Champagne (Co-Inker), Mark Irwin (Co-Inker), Matt Santorelli (Co-Inker), David Baron (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer). Cover by Paul Pantalena and Arif Prianto
RELEASED: November 13, 2019

I’m a huge Peter Tomasi fan. But he and Doug Mahnke have had far better outings.

This “Nora Fries becomes evil” story has been done before. All in all, this may be a better story when it comes to the Mr. Freeze/Nora dynamic. But Batman spends most of this issue in the cave with Alfred and Lucius Fox standing in front of computers talking comic book science. Not exactly thrilling reading.

Later, we get a Batman trope that I absolutely loathe: The Dark Knight in some kind of armored/robot suit. Better luck next time, gentlemen.

TITLE: Star Wars #74
AUTHOR:
Greg Pak
ARTISTS: Phil Noto, Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
RELEASED: November 13, 2019

This issue has Stormtroopers riding dinosaurs. That alone might be worth the cover price.

You’d think a Vader vs. Chewbacca fight wouldn’t actually last that long. (Remember the first level in The Force Unleashed?) But this issue actually does a great job selling it. It’s only two pages, mind you. But the right guy wins, and it’s a great character moment for Chewie.

Someone else who gets a character moment? C-3PO. And you can argue his is actually the better of the two. No joke.

TITLE: Collapser #5
AUTHORS:
Mikey Way, Shaun Simon
ARTIST
S: Ilias Kyriazis, Cris Peter (Colorist), Simon Bowland (Letterer)
RELEASED:
November 13, 2019

Firstly, love the hat-tip to Superman #1.

I was contemplating dropping Collapser, as it seemed to be getting away from the main character’s ongoing struggle with anxiety. But in this issue, it re-asserts itself in a big way. So once again, Collapser has my full attention.

One element that’s been consistent, however, is Ilias Kyriazis’ art. This stuff is gloriously trippy and bizarre. I’m always anxious to see what he’s going to pull out of the hat next.

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

Weekly Comic Haul: May 16, 2018: Batman, Flavor, “Shattered Grid”

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I’m Rob, and these are the comics I spent my hard-earned money on this week…

Flavor #1
I picked this one up for the sake of sheer curiosity. Flavor was advertised as The Hunger Games mixed with world-building akin to that of Hayao Miyazaki. Based purely on how it looks, I might throw Hell’s Kitchen in there as well. I mentioned this to Mrs. Primary Ignition, who doesn’t read a lot of comics. She promptly exclaimed, “That sounds amazing!” If it’s got her sold, it’s at least worth a look.

Batman #47
I’m not big on Batman using guns. It feels like a cheap trick to me. Or “cheap heat,” as they’d say in the wrestling world. “The Gift” introduced us to such a Batman. In an alternate timeline, of course.  But I’m nonetheless enjoying the story. It’s a tremendous spotlight for Booster Gold, who’s been a favorite of mine for a long time.

Dead Hand #2
Kyle Higgins had a double-header this week. The next chapter of “Shattered Grid” (more on that in a moment), and this baby. Dead Hand #1 surprised many a reader with a twist on its final page, leading us into this sophomore issue. This noir spy thriller is packed with plenty of intrigue, which is based a little more in reality than one might think.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #27
Higgins’ second outing of the week. I’m not big on the way “Shattered Grid” is prominently framed like a multiverse story, as opposed to a time-travel one. But it’s nonetheless amazing to see all these Rangers from all these eras getting to meet one another. I can certainly appreciate the use of Lauren Shiba from Power Rangers Samurai. She was about as underutilized as any Ranger in the show’s 25-year history.

A Walk Through Hell #1
I’ve been diving into the AfterShock Comics library in recent months. Babyteeth, Her Infernal Descent, Animosity, Black-Eyed Kids, etc. So I picked this one up for that reason above all else. I know very little about what to expect here, which is probably what they’re counting on. I know its about FBI agents investigating a mall shooting. That’s about it…

Justice League: No Justice #2
Someone needed to clarify this for me the other day: These four cooky teams aren’t staying together full time. They’re just here for this miniseries, and then the new Justice League book launches next month. That’s a little bit of a disappointment, as we’ve got some really interesting combinations here. Either way, No Justice has me picking up a Justice League book for the first time in a few years.

Gideon Falls #3
I wasn’t sure if I was going to stick with Gideon Falls after issue #1. But I found myself drawn back to it as the weeks went by. I’m grateful for that, as the characters have only gotten more interesting. Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino, and the Gideon Falls team have given us something irresistibly haunting.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #72
This book has had its share of flaws. But it’s still one of the best TMNT runs ever. Dave Watcher’s art has a nice gritty texture to it. And Ronda Pattison’s colors are gorgeous as always. The Toad Baron character is a lot of fun too.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.