Fire Starter

The Curse of Brimstone #1
“Inferno, Part 1”
Writer: Justin Jordan
Artist/Cover artist: Philip Tan
Colors: Rain Beredo
Letters: Wes Abbott
Editor: Jessica Chen
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US

With this new creation, writer Justin Jordan and artist Philip Tan delve into a socio-political reality of rural life in America and beyond, but surprisingly, this comic book, at least so far, isn’t all that political from a partisan perspective. This script is going to speak to a lot of people. While I live and work in an urban area, the Canadian province in which I live is suffering from population decline and a struggling economy. While I don’t find myself in dire straits like the characters in this story, it’s incredibly easy to connect with the despair tempered with hope for change. The socio-economic ideas Jordan explores here are important ones, and not something one typically finds in mainstream super-hero comics, so the first chapter of The Curse of Brimstone was a refreshing change of pace in that regard. What hampers it somewhere, though, is the over-declaration of the plight of the backdrop and insufficient information on the real premise that emerges at the end of the issue.

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Haller Back, Girl

Legion Season 2 premiere
“Chapter 9”
Actors: Dan Stevens, Rachel Keller, Aubrey Plaza, Jermaine Clement, Hamish Linklater, Jeremie Harris, Jean Smart, Amber Midthunder & Jon Hamm
Director: Tim Mielants
Writers: Noah Hawley & Nathaniel Halpern
Producers: FX Productions/Marvel Television

If one hadn’t watched the first eight-episode season of Legion on FX last year, this continuation would likely have been quite impenetrable, mainly because the backgrounds and abilities of the supporting characters aren’t explained at all. If one found the first season of this show to be too bizarre or surreal, well, the second season is off to an even weirder start. That all being said, the launch of Legion Season 2 was riveting, challenging and occasionally quite amusing. My wife was in the room for a few minutes and was quite put off by the unconventional visuals and tone of the show, but then, she can’t even handle the commercials for this series. Me, I was entranced.

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Causes of Death

Warner Bros. Animation has announced its next direct-to-movie film will be The Death of Superman, an adaptation of the classic comic-book story from late 1992 that saw the Man of Steel “killed” by the monstrous Doomsday. The followup will be an adaptation of the “Reign of the Supermen” storyline, which saw four replacement Supermen arise and the “real” Man of Tomorrow restored to life.

In a genre in which super-hero deaths were commonplace and quickly reversed, it was nevertheless historic. While comics are much more mainstream today, in 1992, they were still maligned black sheep of pop culture, but despite that, the notion of Superman’s death captured the imaginations of people all over the globe, sending droves of people, those interested in comics and those who weren’t, in droves to comic shops. Some were curious, some were speculating, but it was undeniably a cultural phenomenon.

As such, it makes sense Warner Bros. would eye those storylines for other-media adaptation. There’s just one problem: it’s already done it.

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Tech Support as Life Support

Cyber Force #1
Writers: Matt Hawkins & Bryan Hill
Artist/Colors: Atilio Rojo
Letters: Troy Peteri
Cover artists: Marc Silvestri and Atilio Rojo
Editor: Elena Saldeco
Publisher: Image Comics/Top Cow Productions
Price: $3.99 US

I wasn’t a fan of the original Cyber Force series back in the early 1990s; like most of the other fare from Image Comics in its infancy, it was all about Kewl super-hero action, with ridiculous large guns and extreme violence. It was supremely popular with many readers (and notably collectors), but creator Marc Silvestri’s style wasn’t for me, and neither were the characters. When I learned Image and Top Cow Productions were relaunching the property and reinventing it in the process, it piqued my curiosity. I was pleased to find writers Matt Hawkins and Bryan Hill (who have impressed me as late with their Postal one-shots) offer a much more grounded take on these extreme characters. The plot and character reactions here feel a little familiar, but the execution is solid and much more inviting than the original book.

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A Tale of Two Asylums

Doomsday Clock #4
“Walk on Water”
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist/Cover artist: Gary Frank
Colors: Brad Anderson
Letters: Rob Leigh
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $4.99 US

I’ve been a fan of Geoff Johns’s writing for some time, but this single issue may be the best thing he’s crafted in his career. Much to my surprise, this event book takes a bit of a hiatus to explore the background and psyche of the new Rorschach, and it’s a fascinating character study. Despite the controversy over mining Watchmen for new stories over the objections of Alan Moore and his fans, it really feels that Johns does right by the source material here. This is completely unlike anything Johns has written before. This issue feels more like an organic extension of Watchmen than the three preceding it. Even if one hasn’t read the first three chapters of Doomsday Clock, one could easily delve into this character-focused issue for a satisfying read in and of itself.

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In a Galaxy Far, Far Away…

Krypton TV series pilot
Actors: Cameron Cuffe, Georgina Campbell, Shaun Sipos, Elliot Cowan, Ann Ogbomo, Aaron Pierre, Wallis Day, Rasmus Hardiker, Ian McElhinney, Paula Malcomson, Rupert Graves & Nicholas Witham Mueller
Directors: Ciaran Donnelly & Colm McCarthy
Writers: David S. Goyer & Ian Goldberg
Producers: Phantom Four, DC Entertainment & Warner Horizon Television

Fans of comic books are certainly living in a Golden Age of other-media adaptations. There are so many comics-related shows (and not just flowing from the super-hero genre) on the air and streaming now, it’s impossible to follow them all. There was a time when I probably would have watched any comic-related show out of pure devotion to my beloved medium, regardless of quality. Having PVR’d the first episode of Syfy’s new Krypton series (airing on Space here in Canada), I only got around to watching it this weekend, a few days after its premiere. I was of two minds after having watched it: disappointed and relieved — relieved I don’t need to cram another show into the lineup of programs I watch regularly.

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Kid’s Critique: Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare

Editor’s note: My son, who’s in Grade 2, has seen me reading comics and writing my reviews for this site, and he told me he wanted to try writing his own review. I’m sure he’d appreciate any feedback anyone cared to offer. Enjoy.

Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare hardcover collected edition
Writer: Paul Tobin
Artist/Cover artist: Jacob Chabot
Colors: Matthew J. Rainwater
Letters: Steve Dutro
Editor: Philip R. Simon
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics/Dark Horse Books
Price: $9.99 US/$13.99 CAN

My name is Callum, and I’m new at writing reviews. I’m seven years old, and I wanted to do this because I knew my dad had a blog, and I like comic books too. I chose this comic book because I play the video game. I also like it because it’s like a video game that people as old as me can read, and they can read it if they like to read books. It’s different from the video game but at the same time, it’s the same. It’s got the same fighting scenes, but like I said, it’s different and it has a different story.

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Alphabet Soup

Ninja-K #5
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Tomas Giorello
Colors: Diego Rodriguez
Letters: A Larger World Studios
Cover artists: Trevor Hairsine, Lucas Troya, Tonci Zonjic, Kenneth Rocafort and Philip Tan
Editor: Warren Simons
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Price: $3.99 US

I read a couple of the early issues of Ninjak when it was launched under the Acclaim Comics brand in the 1990s, and it was some standard super-hero fare, featuring a teenage hero clearly designed to evoke memories of Peter Parker and Spider-Man. Oh, but how the property has changed now that it’s changed hands a couple of times. I really had no idea what Ninja-K was about when I scanned these pages, and I was surprised and struck by what I found. What impressed the most about this issue was how accessible it is. This reads like the final chapter of the opening story arc, but I had absolutely no problem catching up on the story through the well-crafted exposition. Ninja-K is an adeptly executed super-hero comic, immersed in the espionage genre.

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You Got Peanut Butter in My Chocolate…

Weapon H #1
Writer: Greg Pak
Artists: Cory Smith & Marcus To
Colors: Morry Hollowell
Letters: Joe Caramagna
Cover artists: Leinil Yu (regular)/Gustavo Duarte, Dale Keown, Adam Kubert and Skan
Editor: Wil Moss & Darren Shan
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Price: $4.99 US

Since Wolverine’s debut in the late 1970s, he and the Hulk have seen their character histories intertwined, and their popularity is undeniable. So there’s a certain logic to Marvel’s decision to create a “new” character that blends both properties. However, I put “new” in quotation marks because there’s little new to be found in this debut issue. If you’re a fan of Wolverine or the Hulk or both, you’ve already read versions of this story — multiple versions — and it makes for a predictable and unengaging read. It might be something of interest to readers who are new to comics and have only a passing familiarity with Wolverine and the Hulk, but there doesn’t seem to be enough new potential in this character concept to justify a story arc, let alone a new ongoing series.

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Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright…

Isola #1
Writer: Brenden Fletcher & Karl Kerschl
Artist/Cover artist: Kerschl
Colors: Msassyk
Letters: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99 US

All I needed to know about Isola to add it to my pull list was that it was being illustrated by Karl Kerschl. I knew it would be a lovely book — and it is — but his and Brenden Fletcher’s story of myth and magic is much more compelling than I expected. The creators only give us the tiniest of tastes of the fantastic world they’ve created here, but it’s rich and full of promise. It feels as though Isola has the potential to be to fantasy and fable what Saga is to science-fiction. I have no doubt this is going to be the comic that next month sends readers scrambling at the last minute to grab a copy of an all-too short supply, as it could easily fly under the reader of my regular mainstream comics readers. Giving your retailer a heads-up about it would be wise — not out of any kind of collectibility, but because you really don’t want to pass up a chance to read this comic.

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Flea-Market Finds: Cosmic Odyssey

Cosmic Odyssey #s 1-4
Writer: Jim Starlin
Pencils: Mike Mignola
Inks: Carlos Garzon
Colors: Steve Oliff
Letters: John Workman
Cover artist: Mignola
Editor:
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.50 US/$4.75 CAN per issue

When I saw this bundle of the original, “prestige-format” issues Cosmic Odyssey for sale for less than 10 bucks, I knew I had to grab it right away. That I didn’t own this 1988 series, even as a trade-paperback collection, was puzzling, as I’m a major Mignola fan (who isn’t?) and enjoy big universe-spanning, super-hero epics. While this is far from a masterpiece or an example of the best of these creators’ work, Cosmic Odyssey is a solid read, making room for some nice bits of characterization amid the accessible (if overly predictable and simplified) plot. One needn’t be familiar with all the minutiae of DC history to enjoy what is essentially a fairly traditional. Perhaps what’s best about this book is that it demonstrates that a major cosmic super-hero crisis needn’t cross over into all titles in a publisher’s line and can rather just unfold in a self-contained mini-series.

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