Cosmic Ghost Rider #1 (Marvel)

Cosmic

CREDIT: Marvel Comics

Rating: 4.5/5 – Cosmic Ghost Rider Rides Again.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Adam Brunell

If you havn’t read the recent Thanos series and had a glimpse into the Cosmic Ghost Rider, then you won’t feel left behind in this most recent comic release. As soon as you open the comic you are brought up to speed, Writer Donny Cates leaves no stone unturned when it comes to what happened to Frank Castle to transform him into the Cosmic Ghost Rider. Not to spoil anything, Cates doesn’t provide all the details into what happened in the Thanos series, but directly how and why Frank Castle is now dead. Frank ends up in Valhalla, Odin himself found Frank to be a warrior and deserved a warrior’s heaven amongst the Gods. The only issues are, Frank is a mortal and some Gods don’t think Frank should be where he is, and Frank doesn’t take kindly to people trying to push him around. After a tussle in a bar, Frank is approached by Odin. The conversation does not go well, and Odin provides Frank with the option to live again as the Ghost Rider. Odin gives Frank the option to go back in time to anywhere he wants to push vengeance onto anyone he feels deserves his wrath, and his choice is rather surprising and almost disappointing.

The first issue of this series is captivating. Dialogue is well laid out and the story doesn’t hold back some major questions that readers may have. Frank has questions while in Valhalla for the Gods, and even Odin can’t look him in the eye when Frank is seeking answers. Artist Dylan Burnett brings a high rank of skill to the series, his scenery is breathtaking, and his action panels are intense. Frank transforming into the Ghost Rider is painful and chaotic, Burnett lets this be known with a fierce sequence augmented by Colorist Antonio Fabela capturing the vivid moments of pain, torture, and hatred.

I was skeptical to grab this comic without reading the Thanos series, but Cates really helped me as a reader to understand the story once I dove in. The only thing that is still questionable to me is the choice that Frank makes in going back in time. The idea could produce a great story in the future, but it puzzled me that Frank states he is going back to where things went downhill for him, and it’s not when his family was killed, or when he sold his soul to the devil. These two moments alone should be the highest horrible moments in Franks life, but I guess Donny Cates had a different opinion.  Even with that mismatch between what I expected and what Cates delivered, I still thoroughly enjoyed the issue and will be back for more next month.

Reviewed by: Adam Brunell
(adamb@comicspectrum.com
)
http://comicspectrum.com/ By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

Advertisements
Posted in Marvel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Batman Giant #1 (DC)

100Batman

CREDIT: DC Comics

Rating: 5/5 – Batman Family for a New Group of Fans.
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall

The 1st 100 page Batman sampler that DC is releasing through Walmart stores has 3 full reprinted comics and a new 12 page Batman story.  I’ll be reviewing all 4 of these comics and there will be a bit of repetition in this opening paragraph about the program.  DC has stated that it is to get new readers into DC comics, so that is how I’ll be reviewing these, not based on the story value to an existing fan.  The one exception is the “all new” 12 page story.  This is not needed for the new reader and serves mostly, in my opinion, as a DC marketing hook to get their hard core fans to go to Walmart and buy these comics so they do not “miss out” on the new material.  The comics themselves are displayed along with the collectible card games (Magic, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh) up by the registers, so are in a good spot to be noticed by kids.  That is good.  However, there do not seem to be very many copies on display, and I’m curious how many will be left to be discovered by new readers after existing DC fans have swooped in to buy copies, combined with the people who will buy them to resell on eBay.

On to the comics: the 1st story in the comic is 12-pages by Jimmy Palmiotti and Patch Zircher that has Batman trying to solve a kidnapping case and the trail leads him back to Crime Alley, where Palmiotti is able to give a brief recap of the fateful night when his parents were murdered.  Palmiotti again shows his ability to cut to the core of a character, he hits the high points of what makes Batman “Batman” in 12 pages.  As an aside, the announcements for this 100 page line produced for Walmart talked about a new Batman story by Brian Michael Bendis, but it’s not in this issue. Since this is the 1st of 2 parts, the earliest fans may be seeing that tale will be in September’s #3 issue.

The 2nd story is a reprint of Batman #608 from 2002, the first part of the “Hush” storyline written by Jeph Loeb with art by Jim Lee/Scott Williams, one of the most famous/popular Batman stories of the past 25 years.  This is a great story to choose to introduce new readers to Batman, and existing fans should not mind giving this classic a re-read.  3rd is a reprint of Nightwing #1 (2011) written by Kyle Higgins with are by Eddy Barrows/JP Mayer.  This is the 1st New 52 issue of Nightwing and one of the better New 52 debuts.  Most people are aware of Dick Grayson’s past as Robin from various pop culture sources, this gives a crash course on how he matured into Nightwing, and the tone/action of the story should appeal to Batman fans and could very well create some new Nightwing fans.  The 4th and final story reprints Harley Quinn #1 (2014) written by Amanda Conner/Jimmy Palmiotti with art by Chad Hardin.  This also felt like a great choice, this Harley Quinn series was a fan favorite and I would regularly see huge lines of people waiting to see Jimmy & Amanda at conventions as a result of this series.  Not directly relevant, but I do think it has a good chance of resonating with a decent number of newcomers.

Batman is typically the top-selling comic for DC and of the 4 100 page Giants produced for Walmart, this was by far my favorite. As a fan and also evaluating how it might be received by newcomers to comics, this issue was top notch.  The selection of stories felt like they were properly curated to appeal to Bat-fans, helping expand the narrative to Nightwing and Harley Quinn in much the same way the long ago title Batman Family would highlight characters closely associated with Batman in their own stories.  The overall package is nice.  Good paper and print quality, an intro page before each story and a “come back in 30 days for the next installment” teaser at the end of each.  There are ads for complementary trade paperbacks in several places throughout the issue, PLUS an ad for Comic Shop Locator ad to help new readers find a local shop to buy more comics if they wish to (the ad was in the Batman & Teen Titans issues, but not in Superman & JLA).   Ultimately, I think it is a nice package for new fans and well worth the $4.99, but the 12 page Batman story is not really enough to make this worth it to existing fans who have read the material being reprinted, except for the most hard-core completists.

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
(bob@comicspectrum.com
)
http://comicspectrum.com/ By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

Posted in DC | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teen Titans Giant #1 (DC)

100Titans

CREDIT: DC Comics

Rating: 3.5/5 – A Confusing Selection of Different Titans Teams.
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall

The 1st 100 page Teen Titans sampler that DC is releasing through Walmart stores has 3 full reprinted comics and a new 12 page Teen Titans story.  I’ll be reviewing all 4 of these comics and there will be a bit of repetition in this opening paragraph about the program.  DC has stated that it is to get new readers into DC comics, so that is how I’ll be reviewing these, not based on the story value to an existing fan.  The one exception is the “all new” 12 page story.  This is not needed for the new reader and serves mostly, in my opinion, as a DC marketing hook to get their hard core fans to go to Walmart and buy these comics so they do not “miss out” on the new material.  The comics themselves are displayed along with the collectible card games (Magic, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh) up by the registers, so are in a good spot to be noticed by kids.  That is good.  However, there do not seem to be very many copies on display, and I’m curious how many will be left to be discovered by new readers after existing DC fans have swooped in to buy copies, combined with the people who will buy them to resell on eBay.

On to the comics: the 1st story in the comic is a 12-page Teen Titans story written by Dan Jurgens with art by Scot Eaton/Wayne Fauchner.  This one was peculiar because Eaton/Fauchner are the current art team on Teen Titans, but the team featured here is NOT that team.  It consists of Robin (Tim Drake), Changeling, Raven, and Starfire.  So a new reader is going to be exposed to a team from some point in the past in a new story made for this issue.  I’m not sure I understand why DC would do this if the goal is to create new readers who will move to reading regular DC Comics in the comic shops at some point.  The story is a pretty simple “stop the Disruptor from stealing a science-y device from S.T.A.R. Labs” that leads into a continuing story hook involving H.I.V.E.

The 2nd story in the issue digs back 15 years in Titans history, reprinting Teen Titans #1 (2003) by Geoff Johns & Mike McKone.  This is the Titans team most prominently featured on the cover of the issue, as opposed to the team featured in the new story.  Kind of an interesting choice for the main feature, since none of the characters really exist in current DC continuity, but they do live on in reprints, so if the goal of this book is to more sell collected editions from the DC backlist than to move readers to current comics, this makes a lot of sense.   The 3rd story reprints Super Sons #1 (2017) by Peter Tomasi & Jorge Jimenez.  A nice story featuring Damian Wayne’s Robin and Jon Kent’s Superboy, playing to the “young heroes” theme.  The 4th story reprints the recent “new age of heroes” book Sideways #1, that follows the theme of stories with teenage protagonists, by Dan Didio, Justin Jordan, and Kenneth Rocafort.

If I was a new reader I think I’d walk away from this comic very confused about who the Teen Titans are.  I just saw two different versions of the team, neither of which are the team I’d see if I went to a comic shop to pick up the current issue of Teen Titans, though at least I got a story with the Damian Wayne Robin who is on the current team.  The overall package is nice.  Good paper and print quality, an intro page before each story and a “come back in 30 days for the next installment” teaser at the end of each.  There are ads for complementary trade paperbacks in several places throughout the issue, PLUS an ad for Comic Shop Locator ad to help new readers find a local shop to buy more comics if they wish to (the ad was in the Batman & Teen Titans issues, but not in Superman & JLA).  It’s interesting that this issue has FAR fewer copies on display than the other 3 100 page giant (2 vs 8-10) and this was on 1st day of sale at 8am, so I don’t think someone came in and bought up a bunch of them before I got there.  I have heard from other people that the Titans book was in much shorter supply than the others at shops they visited in other states as well.  Ultimately, I think it is a nice package for new fans and well worth the $4.99, but the 12 page Teen Titans story is not really enough to make this worth it to existing fans other than the most hard-core completists.

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
(bob@comicspectrum.com
)
http://comicspectrum.com/ By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

Posted in DC | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Superman Giant #1 (DC)

100Superman

CREDIT: DC Comics

Rating: 4/5 – Superman Shines, but Substantially Shares Spotlight .
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall

The 1st 100 page Superman sampler that DC is releasing through Walmart stores has 3 full reprinted comics and a new 12 page Superman story.  I’ll be reviewing all 4 of these comics and there will be a bit of repetition in this opening paragraph about the program.  DC has stated that it is to get new readers into DC comics, so that is how I’ll be reviewing these, not based on the story value to an existing fan.  The one exception is the “all new” 12 page story.  This is not needed for the new reader and serves mostly, in my opinion, as a DC marketing hook to get their hard core fans to go to Walmart and buy these comics so they do not “miss out” on the new material.  The comics themselves are displayed along with the collectible card games (Magic, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh) up by the registers, so are in a good spot to be noticed by kids.  That is good.  However, there do not seem to be very many copies on display, and I’m curious how many will be left to be discovered by new readers after existing DC fans have swooped in to buy copies, combined with the people who will buy them to resell on eBay.

On to the comics: the 1st story in the comic is a nicely done tale written by Jimmy Palmiotti with art by Tom Derenick and Trevor Scott.   Clark Kent is sent to do a story on tornadoes that have been ravaging the Midwest and we get to see the compassion and heroism that are hallmarks of the Man of Steel.  Existing fans may be scratching their heads since the stories about this 100 page line produced for Walmart were talking about it featuring a new Superman story by Tom King.  It’s not in this #1 issue.  Since this is the 1st of 2 parts, the earliest fans may be seeing Tom King write the Man of Steel will be in September’s #3 issue.  Will it be in that issue?  Time will tell.  For now, sit back and enjoy Palmiotti’s story that is a great introduction to Superman on the comics page for a new fan.  It was nice to see Superman leading off the issue, but Superman’s presence dropped as the issue went on.

DC leaned heavily on the New 52 for the JLA 100 page giant, but shied away from that for Superman, probably for the best, since Grant Morrison’s “jeans & t-shirt” New 52 Superman is only a memory at this point.  Lacking that, DC reached farther back and reprints Superman/Batman #1 (2003) by Jeph Loeb & Ed McGuinness as the 2nd story in this issue.  It’s a good story but the focus is on the interplay between Batman and Superman, and Batman gets more of the spotlight in this issue.  Granted he is the much more popular of the 2 heroes, but it felt like Superman was getting short shrift in his own 100 page giant.  The 3rd story was Green Lantern #1 (2005) by Geoff Johns with art by Ethan Van Sciver for the 1st 4 pages and Carlos Pacheco/Jesus Merino for pages 5-30.  Another “avoid the New 52” choice since the New 52 Green Lantern debut featured Sinestro wearing the ring.  Going back an additional 6 years to this series gave DC the change to reprint this excellent issue with a recap of Hal Jordan’s origin and  a nice introduction to the most famous Green Lantern of them all.  The 4th story was a puzzling choice, The Terrifics #1 from a few months ago.  I know DC is desperately trying to get fans to care about their “new age of heroes” but may have been better served reprinting a recent Superman comic.

If I was a new reader wanting to read about Superman and I picked this comic up and flipped through it, I’d find very little of the Man of Steel.  Hopefully new readers will like what they see enough to buy the comic, DC is reprinting some good stuff here. If DC really wanted to put in a Batman/Superman story, it should have been complemented with another standalone Superman story, or at least another story FEATURING Superman.  The overall package is nice.  Good paper and print quality, an intro page before each story and a “come back in 30 days for the next installment” teaser at the end of each.  There are ads for complementary trade paperbacks in several places throughout the issue, but NO Comic Shop Locator ad (it was in the Batman & Teen Titans issues, but not in Superman & JLA).  Ultimately, I think it is a nice package for new fans and well worth the $4.99, but the 12 page Superman story, while great, is not really enough to make this worth it to existing fans other than the most hard-core completists.

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
(bob@comicspectrum.com
)
http://comicspectrum.com/ By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

 

Posted in DC | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Justice League Giant #1 (DC)

100JLA

CREDIT: DC Comics

Rating: 4/5 – Justice League Sampler for New Readers Could Use Some More JLA.
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall

The 1st 100 page Justice League sampler that DC is releasing through Walmart stores has 3 full reprinted comics and a new 12 page Wonder Woman story.  I’ll be reviewing all 4 of these comics and there will be a bit of repetition in this opening paragraph about the program.  DC has stated that it is to get new readers into DC comics, so that is how I’ll be reviewing these, not based on the story value to an existing fan.  The one exception is the “all new” 12 page story.  This is not needed for the new reader and serves mostly, in my opinion, as a DC marketing hook to get their hard core fans to go to Walmart and buy these comics so they do not “miss out” on the new material.  The comics themselves are displayed along with the collectible card games (Magic, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh) up by the registers, so are in a good spot to be noticed by kids.  That is good.  However, there do not seem to be very many copies on display, and I’m curious how many will be left to be discovered by new readers after existing DC fans have swooped in to buy copies, combined with the people who will buy them to resell on eBay.

On to the comics: the 1st story in the comic is the new Wonder Woman story written by Tim Seeley with art by Rick Leonardi.  I found it kind of weird to open a JLA comic with a solo Wonder Woman story, but the Amazon Princess had a very successful movie, so the character is well-liked and well known by people and the story so maybe this will work with new readers.  The story is a WW vs. Ares tale that felt a bit preachy to me and Leonardi’s art felt a bit stiff, so it was not a huge hit with me.  It mostly served to get the comic off to a slow start.

The 2nd story reprints Justice League #1 (2011) by Geoff Johns & Jim Lee.  This is the 1st New 52 issue of Justice League and introduces the team in the current DC continuity so is a good jumping on Point for new readers.  The 3rd story is a reprint of The Flash #1 (2011) by Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul.  Another New 52 debut issue with Barry Allen who, to new readers, may be jarringly dissimilar to the Barry Allen they see on TV.  Even so, Manapul’s art is gorgeous and is a great example of comics art for newcomers and is a good way to introduce them to the comics version of the character.  4th and finally is yet another New 52 #1, this time Aquaman #1 (2011) by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis.  This is another choice where the newcomer will be pulled into the comics world, because Aquaman is not the dark and brooding Jason Momoa they saw in the Justice League movie, but one much close in appearance to the one people have seen on merchandising (T-Shirts, mugs, etc) for most of their lives.  The story by Johns is a great intro to the character and directly pokes fun at a number of the common Aquaman jokes like “talks to fish” and deftly puts them aside.  This is a perfect choice of a 1st introduction to the comics version of the character for new readers.

Overall, I thought there could have been a stronger Justice League focus in the 100 page package instead of using 3 of the 4 stories to focus on individual members.  Personally I think if the new story had featured the full JLA instead of just Wonder Woman, then the issue would have felt more balanced.  That said, the selection of reprint material was top notch.  DC picked very popular stories, well regarded by existing fans, so they should really click with new readers.  The overall package is nice.  Good paper and print quality, an intro page before each story and a “come back in 30 days for the next installment” teaser at the end of each.  There are ads for complementary trade paperbacks in several places throughout the issue, but NO Comic Shop Locator ad (it was in the Batman & Teen Titans issues, but not in Superman & JLA).  Ultimately, I think it is a nice package for new fans and well worth the $4.99, but the 12 page Wonder Woman story is not enough to make this worth it to existing fans other than the most hard-core completists.

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
(bob@comicspectrum.com
)
http://comicspectrum.com/ By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

Posted in DC | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hit-Girl #5 (Image)

HitGirl_05-1

CREDIT: Image Comics

Rating: 5/5 – Lemire & Risso Make Hit-Girl Kick Ass in Canada…
By ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.

With apologies for the pun on the title of the series Hit-Girl spun off from, this comic kicks ass!  After an initial story arc with a more cartoony art style by Ricardo Lopez Ortiz that was really not  my cup of tea, I decided to give issue #5 a try when I saw Eduardo Risso (100 Bullets, Moonshine) as the artist.  His style really clicks for me with the crime and no-holds-barred violence that is a trademark of this series.

Jeff Lemire falls right into writing the profane, irreverant Hit Girl.  Walking into a bar, looking for information (in full costume) the bartender remarks “Halloween’s over, and there’s no kids allowed, sweetheart.” to receive the response, “Nice mullet, F**k Face. Gimme a root beer”.  I can appreciate that not everyone will be tickled by this kind of dialogue OR by the sequence that follows as Hit Girl has to go to some extreme measures to get the information she needs.  Those readers should steer well clear.  The ones who see that and say “Right on!  You tell him Mindy, and don’t take any shit from those low-lifes!” this is written for you.  Risso excels at the hard-boiled action. Gun-shots, stabbings, and blood splatter are all in his artistic arsenal and he’s able to use them all to the story’s advantage.

Lemire really bellies up to the bar and delivers a noir tale paired with Risso that is a world-class example of the genre.  Fans of the genre who are not turned off by language, violence, and peril, go out and grab a copy of this issue before it’s gone.  The cliff-hanger of this issue certainly has me anticipating how Mindy’s going to get out of this one, I will definitely be back for issue #6.

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
(bob@comicspectrum.com
)
http://comicspectrum.com/ By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics

Posted in Image | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Justice League #1 (DC)

CREDIT: DC Comics

Rating: 4.5/5 – Jim Cheung Delivers on His First Gig at DC!
By ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.

DC has been telling some big stories with the Justice League since Metal. After that epic series, the Justice League faced off against another “literally” huge threat in the four issue mini-series, “No Justice” and now again with an all new Justice League number one. For this new era of Justice League, DC has also brought out some of the biggest creators in comics in writer Scott Snyder and artist Jim Cheung. It all adds up to a really fun first issue that delivers not only on scope, but in terms of continuity and nostalgia as well.

In just the first two pages, Cheung gets to draw the League from DC One Million, the Monitor, Kamandi and an all new Hall of Justice! It feels great to see the Justice League making the Hall of Justice their headquarters again, and although we don’t get to see much of the inside, Cheung’s pencils give us a tease of a place I hope we see more of. Not only do we get to see the Hall of Justice, but Snyder and Cheung also reintroduce us to some iconic ideas from DC’s past that I won’t mention so as not to spoil, but it definitely delivers on the Superfriends era!

Although I admit it feels a bit weird to see Cheung on DC’s biggest heroes after all his Marvel work, his interpretation of these characters really work, and his pencils on the villains look even better! My only issue with the art is that at times the colors feel a bit too dark, especially when compared against Laura Martin’s colors on the cover that really pop. It didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the visuals, but it did make me wish that Martin’s colors were throughout the issue.

Justice League #1 is the beginning of another new epic storyline. Although you may feel you need to read Metal and No Justice prior to diving in here since a few things are mentioned from those storylines, I don’t think you’ll be lost if you’re coming in fresh. DC’s biggest heroes with some of comics’ biggest creators make this a must read for all DC fans. That means go out and get it!

Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
(shawn@comicspectrum.com
)
http://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

ComicSpectrum ComicBookRoundup  Follow ComicSpectrum: ComicSpectrum Twitter ComicSpectrum FB

Posted in Marvel | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment