This next round of reviews is for the comics I received on September 18. This was my second shipment of comics that week. Unfortunately, as usual I was half asleep when reading these comics, and I was also suffering from extreme fatigue-induced anxiety, so these reviews will be very short.
LUMBERJANES #18 (Boom!, 2015) – This is Kat Leyh’s first issue as writer. I don’t notice any major drop in quality – I get the impression that Kat Leyh understands and respects this franchise, and that she’s a good choice of replacement. The story is reasonably exciting, though a bit of a letdown compared with the epic that just concluded. I wonder if we’re ever going to get to see a critter carouse, or if the Lumberjanes are going to keep missing them.
SEX CRIMINALS #12 (Image, 2015) – This was the most bizarre, disturbing and mind-warping issue of the entire series, and that’s saying a lot. The giant penis bear thing… wow. That thing is nightmare-inducing. The pacing of this issue is kind of weird, in that the lecture by Ana Kincaid is effectively just a long Author Filibuster that has no connection to the story, although the things Kincaid says are very true.
USAGI YOJIMBO #148 (Dark Horse, 2015) – Not a great Usagi story. Effectively just a series of fight scenes with only a mildly surprising plot twist at the end. I expect better than this from Stan.
RAT QUEENS #12 (Image, 2015) – Finally an issue that focuses on Betty, although we don’t learn as much about her as I’d like to know. The scene with Violet throwing the knife out the window is laugh-out-loud funny, but it was unfortunately spoiled in the preview. I’m glad that this series has recovered from its overly long hiatus and is finally being published regularly again.
MANIFEST DESTINY #17 (Image, 2015) – Collins and Sacagawea’s paired origin stories are both quite touching. Collins’s deprived childhood seems very realistic for this period. It looks like this is the second to last issue of the Vameter storyline; I wonder where we’re going next.
PRINCELESS: RAVEN: THE PIRATE PRINCESS #3 (Action Lab, 2015) – Maybe the highlight of the issue is the guest appearance by G. Willow Wilson, Kelly Sue DeConnick, and Marjorie Liu. I recognized the last two instantly, but not the third. Raven’s encounter with Ximena is a very powerful scene; it’s clear that these two characters have strong feelings for each other, but also that Ximena has a major unresolved grudge against Raven. If Jeremy keeps writing this well, he’ll be a candidate for the Eisner for Best Writer.
PREZ #4 (DC, 2015) – This is still the best DC comic, although the pacing of this issue is weird; it just ends abruptly in midscene. Until this issue I didn’t understand what was going on with the drone program. The random drone killings of civilians are another example of an eerily plausible extrapolation from things the U.S. government actually does. I just hope that Prez is able to effect some sort of positive change, although I don’t know how she can do that with the time that’s available in the two remaining issues.
MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC #34 (IDW, 2015) – Jeremy Whitley’s other comic book this week is a collaboration with Andy Price. I almost want to call Andy the Good Pony Artist. Comparing him to Barks is probably blasphemous, and he’s not the only good pony artist, but he’s head and shoulders above the others. This issue is pretty exciting. It was billed as the major epic pony story for this year, and it certainly is that. The splash page where the changelings explode out of the Super Speedy Lemonade Squeezy 6000 is the highlight of the issue; it’s an impressive “oh shit” moment.PREZ #4 (DC, 2015) – This is still the best DC comic, although the pacing of this issue is weird; it just ends abruptly in midscene. Until this issue I didn’t understand what was going on with the drone program. The random drone killings of civilians are another example of an eerily plausible extrapolation from things the U.S. government actually does. I just hope that Prez is able to effect some sort of positive change, although I don’t know how she can do that with the time that’s available in the two remaining issues.
JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS #7 (IDW, 2015) – Emma Vieceli’s first issue as artist. Sophie Campbell is irreplaceable, but Vieceli is a surprisingly adequate substitute; she’s very good at facial expressions. In terms of story, this issue is basically just an introduction to the second major story arc.
INVINCIBLE #123 (Image, 2015) – There’s a very cute scene at the start of this issue where Mark and Terra have a daddy-daughter day, but other than that, this issue is just setup for the Reboot storyline. According to the letters page, that story is going to last three issues. I hope after it’s over, this series finally stops spinning its wheels and starts going somewhere.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #309 (Marvel, 1988) – “Styx and Stone” is the conclusion of the story involving Jonathan Caesar. This character is truly creepy and disgusting, but it’s nice that Mary Jane gets to play an active role in defeating him, rather than having to be rescued by Peter. The two title characters are not among Michelinie’s better creations.
FANTASTIC FOUR #202 – This is a boring, generic story in which the FF team up with Iron Man to battle Quasimodo. The only good thing about it is the John Buscema artwork.
FANTASTIC FOUR #146 – This is from a period when the series was suffering from poor creative teams, boring and overly convoluted plots, and too many guest stars. This issue is no exception, as the team consists of the Thing, Torch and Medusa, with no Reed or Sue. That sort of thing never works for very long. The plot this issue is weird and poorly explained, involving a villain called Ternak and a team of abominable snowmen.
TARZAN #159 (Gold Key, 1966) – This early Gaylord DuBois/Russ Manning story is an adaptation of “The Jewels of Opar.” Manning’s artwork is as incredible as always; his La is a stunning beauty and his Tarzan is a perfect physical specimen. What strikes me about the story is its extremely abbreviated nature; Gaylord DuBois skips over large chunks of the novel in just a few captions. There’s one very funny panel where La professes her love for Tarzan and he unceremoniously rejects her; I posted this on my Instagram feed.
KA-ZAR #18 (Marvel, 1976) – An unexpectedly good comic. I have low expectations for Ka-Zar comics from this era, but this one has art by Val Mayerik, who was close to becoming a superstar but somehow never made it. His artwork here reminds me of that of Mike Ploog or a young P. Craig Russell. I don’t remember much about the story, but it’s a fairly effective piece of sword and sorcery mixed with SF.
ODY-C #7 (Image, 2015) – This is even weirder than last issue. As the letter column notes, this He solo story is not based directly on Greek myth but is a composite of myths from lots of different cultures, including the Arabian Nights. It’s a daring experiment, though I’m not sure how well it works. Christian Ward’s art is as spectacular as usual, especially the page that’s composed of two interlocking spirals.
HARLEY QUINN #20 (DC, 2015) – In this issue, Harley goes to Las Vegas to look for the girl she was sent to locate at the end of last issue. This is a typical example of the Harley Quinn formula, but that formula is an enjoyable one. Some commenters on scans_daily were surprised by the scene where Harley murders the baggage claim attendant, but while this scene is disgusting and shocking, it’s also entirely in character for her.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #170 (Marvel, 1977) – An average issue by the underrated team of Len Wein and Ross Andru. The artwork is better than the writing. The villain this issue is Doctor Faustus, a very silly character, and because Peter is mind-controlled for almost the whole issue, there’s not a lot of characterization or soap opera.
ADVENTURE COMICS #325 (DC, 1964) – After reading Raymond McDaniel’s poetry collection Special Powers and Abilities, which is about the Legion of Super-Heroes, I wanted to read some actual Legion comics. “Lex Luthor Meets the Super-Hero Legion!” is not one of the best early Legion stories, but at least it’s better than most Weisinger-edited comics from the early ‘60s. Like many of Edmond Hamilton’s Legion stories, it’s full of random unexplained weirdness, like a panel that shows Chameleon Boy and Proty II shaking hands with their parallel-universe counterparts. The backup story, “The Day Superboy Was a Coward,” is worse than no story at all.
LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #27 (DC, 1992) – In this issue the Legion battles B.I.O.N., which is not very well explained, but it appears to be some sort of robot that has all their powers. This story is reasonably exciting, but as is often the case with v4, it just doesn’t feel particularly like a Legion comic. As usual the best scenes in the issue are the ones with the SW6 Legionnaires.
BLACK CANARY #4 (DC, 2015) – Surprisingly this was my favorite issue since #1. I like Pia Guerra’s guest artwork better than Annie Wu’s art. Annie’s unique art style lost its novelty after one issue. And it’s been so long since Y: The Last Man that I forgot what a solid artist Pia Guerra is. I had mostly lost my enthusiasm for this series, but this issue makes me excited about it again.
PHONOGRAM: THE IMMATERIAL GIRL #2 (Image, 2015) – Usually the musical references in this series go completely over my head, but I recognized two of the musical videos referenced in this issue: a-ha’s “Take On Me” and Madonna’s “Material Girl.” As a result this issue was more fun than the previous one. Jamie McKelvie’s artwork this issue is very impressive, especially the character who blends into the panel borders.
HELP US! GREAT WARRIOR #5 (Boom!, 2015) – I read this issue out of order because I didn’t realize that I was two issues behind on it, not one issue. This issue was no better than any of the others.
ALL-STAR SECTION EIGHT #2 (DC, 2015) – This is the worst new comic I’ve read this year. It’s a disgusting, tasteless, plotless piece of crap, and it’s even offensive to Muslims because of Six-Pack’s phone call to Homeland Security. Garth Ennis clearly wrote this just for the paycheck, and he should be ashamed of himself. The one thing about this issue that I did like is the scene where Green Lantern is fighting a helmeted dinosaur in the background.
ALL-STAR SECTION EIGHT #3 (DC, 2015) – This issue is at the same level of quality as the previous issue.
THOR #331 (Marvel, 1983) – “Holy War” is a poorly drawn and boringly written story in which Thor battles a forgettable new villain called the Crusader. After Roy Thomas left and before Walt Simonson arrived, Thor was in seriously dire straits.
DAREDEVIL #106 (Marvel, 1973) – Gerber’s Daredevil is not one of his better works, but this issue is fairly enjoyable. The plot is weird and complicated, and not in a good way, but the romantic tension between Daredevil, Black Widow and Moondragon is cute. This series must be one of the few Steve Gerber comics from the ‘70s that I don’t have a complete run of.
JEZEBEL JADE #2 (Comico, 1988) – This Jonny Quest spinoff miniseries is a hidden gem. I’ve already discussed it in my reviews of issues 1 and 3 elsewhere on this blog, but what strikes me about this issue is Andy Kubert’s excellent storytelling. His art in this issue shows great promise, which I don’t think he ever fulfilled. I think he’s spent so much of his career working on big Marvel and DC projects that it’s hindered his artistic development.