Reviews

Comic Book Review: Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars (Marvel)

Published by Marvel, May 2015
Story: Cullen Bunn
Art: Matteo Lolli
Colors: Ruth Redmond
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Covers By: Tony Harris, John Tyler, Nick Ganzin, Skottie Young, and others…

Synopsis: So when I heard that Marvel was doing another crazy mega event concerning centered around the end result of the Multiverse I was like…another one?  I hope this is it because seriously this entire storyline has become so damn confusing that I honestly do not have a clue what is really going on.  Now this Secret Wars was done before, back in the 80’s and just like all fads, they end up resurfacing when the idea pool has all dried up.  Enter Deadpool, I’m a huge fan of the character and usually love most stories he partakes in.  When I heard he had a take on this storyline, the one done back in the 80s I was sold.  The premise is just this…taken directly from the book…”Back in 1985, all the big heroes were taken to space for a Secret War and her’s what REALLY happened!”  Yes, written by yours truly so lets jump on board with our first issue. (more…)

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Comic Book Review: The Dying & The Dead #1 (Image Comics) – Oversized Issue

Published by Image Comics, January 2015
Story:  Jonathan Hickman
Art:  Ryan Bodenheim
Colors: Michael Garland
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Covers By: Ryan Bodenheim

Dying And The Dead #1

Dying And The Dead #1

Synopsis: We open up to what seems to be a brief history in time for what should be a lifetime of marriage transpiring on one very special but gruesome day.  The narration makes for a strong opening, a type of Greek tragedy playing out before your eyes.  Love between two people, the love for a sister, and death.  A pretty potent cocktail of sorts leading to a climactic ending of the first scene as our mysterious group lay waste to the wedding party and a type of sacrificial offering of one in what seems to be twins, one ending the life of another but for what? What is so important that she must sacrifice herself because of decisions made.  Symbolism runs deep in Hickman’s work and I can only assume we’ll be knee deep in it with this new series.  Jonathan is known for developing his stories over a lengthy time frame feeding the reader the necessary building blocks that make for a all encompassing story.  Each character injected at just the right time with enough detail to create a sort of bond between you as the reader and the  characters involved with the story.  That feeling of caring for each of his characters are what make Hickman’s stories so enjoyable to read.  You care and thus you plow forward and when philosophy is tacked on as building blocks to the story, on top of those characters you begin to care for, creates more diverse and in depth plots adding more wood to the fire.  It’s probably why I read just about anything Jonathan writes, it’s just so well thought out, 10 steps ahead of what you think you are reading and it grabs hold of you, thus never letting go.  I’ve been following Jonathan Hickman’s other two Image Comic series East of West and The Manhattan Projects where symbolism runs rampant, the stories are heart quaking, and the characters just plain belong in a movie.  I mean when is the Syfy Channel gonna pick these series up.  I would love to witness an onscreen adaption, movie or TV series to some of his works.  Jonathon Hickman’s many works, providing the breadcrumbs to the meaning of life.

TheDyingAndTheDead-1-HospitalAfter the wedding we shift 2 weeks forward to our main character Edward James Canning or just simply known as the Colonel sitting in a hospital room where his wife Clair lays dying.  No medicine of man can save her but there may be another way, a person that goes by the name of the Bishop that could help.  The Bishop belongs to a group of beings dressed in white, complexion white, where time practically stands still.  They need him to do something, something that they themselves cannot do.   We learn of the twins whom in fact are not twins but a massive group of dare I say clones?  They are the ones that raided the wedding and stole the object referred to only as the Bah al’Sharur.  This object shares some significant purpose to The Bishop.  There are plenty of plots seeded throughout this first issue introducing many factions that will most likely play a very large part in what is to come for our lead character.TheDyingAndTheDead-1-TheCityColonel journeys with this mysterious messenger as he provides his assessment or speculation of sorts concerning free will and the decisions involved in ones life.  They arrive just outside Amarillo, Texas to a small but quaint looking church house.  Misleading in size the church hides a secret, The City.  We are introduced to The Bishop’s second, Shurra al Alum Era…where we are quickly cut off by the Colonel as he simply states that he does not care to know her name as with any name involved with this group.  We learn about some history between the Colonel and The City from a previous time, a time when The City was burning yet our helpful adviser that we can only assume has been alive for centuries believes nothing the Colonel says.  That leads me to wonder who really is older, who really is in the know, and how does time play into this little world Hickman is creating.

TheDyingAndTheDead-1-TheDealReligion plays a big part of our final meeting between the Colonel and The Bishop.  It seems that all of human culture, philosophy, and religious outlets have spawned from The City and it’s inhabitants.  Yes, political as it may seem we have another power group laying claim to the creation of human society.  Lies fed to keep the outside in a haze while control is maintained.  A tree of life?  Many trees of life?  A garden of Eden?  Does god truly exist and does The Bishop follow like the Pope in Rome?  Well, as the Colonel makes the deal to save his beloved wife the hunt begins for the allusive artifact that so many wish to possess; the Bah al’Sharur.

Panel/Layout: This comic is a massively oversized page turner numbering in at 60 pages and while this won’t be the norm for future books it definitely is a value at $4.50 cover price.  The artwork is amazing and with the amount of storytelling Jonathan Hickman is known for I’m pretty sure that Ryan Bodenheim will have plenty more opportunities to stun us with his imaginative translations from script to pencil.

Verdict: This is the start to another interesting series by Jonathan Hickman and Ryan Bodenheim.  With the potential news that Jonathan will be taking a nap so-to-speak from writing for Marvel but still continuing his endeavors with this project and the other two also with Image Comics (The Manhattan Projects and East of West) then that means this series, like the others will have more focus time for in depth writing of the many plots and twists that these series are known for.  Taking that into consideration I can only assume that The Dying & The Dead will also have a roller coaster style ride with twists and turns making this another awe inspiring story to follow.  I look forward to each issue and hope it’s every bit as good as the other two, both of which I’ve been enjoying from the beginning.  Here’s to the next great story to encompass my time and love for comic book reading.

Rating: 5/5

Office Site: Dying and the Dead
Newsarama: Press Release

Comic Mini-Series Review: Hawkeye vs. Deadpool #0-4 (Marvel 2015)

Published by Marvel, Starting in September 2014
Story: Gerry Duggan
Art: Matteo Lolli
Colors: Chistiane Peter
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Covers By: James Harren & Jordie Bellaire

Deadpool Wiki Site

With the huge success around the Deadpool and the Deadpool vs. mini-series Marvel has ushered in a constant Deadpool related story for the past 2 years now.  Along with the release of new mini-series there has been a constant influx of goofy Deadpool comic relief covers depicting either Deadpool mocking himself or the related characters involved with the story in some obscene scenario.  Deadpool has become a household name guaranteeing him a revolving door of topnotch writers.

Synopsis: It’s Halloween night and our story opens up too a man whom appears to have grown a conscience; wouldn’t you if you had a cat named Pickles?  The neighborhood kids trick-or-treating speak of a mysterious house where an avenger (shoots arrows) lives.  Legend has it he actually hands out full-sized candy bars!  As a kid you always wanted to score the full-sized candy bars!  HawkeyeVsDeadpool-1-ABut alas those kids are sorely disappointed when they discover full-sized has been replaced with fun-sized candy treats.  Enter Deadpool (Dadpool) sporting his custom Deadpool costume.  (more…)

Comic Review: Colder The Bad Seed #1 (Dark Horse Comics)

Published by Dark Horse Comics, October 2014
Story: Paul Tobin
Art: Juan Ferreyra
Colors: Eduardo Ferreyra
Letterer: Nate Piekos
Covers By: Juan Ferreyra

Colder-TheBadSeed-DHC-1

Synopsis:  As a recap, the first series was built upon the intriguing idea that another world existing within our own plane of existence.  You could only enter this world if you new how to pass through the door.  Nimble Jack was a strange character that fed off the souls of the crazy people, which in turn devoured their minds completely.  He was attracted to crazy people because they were the most colorful and the tastiest.  He was the one that created Declan by allowing him to escape the fire that burned down the Sansid Asylym for the Criminally Insane located in Barnstable, Massachusetts around the year 1941.  Many years later Declan wakes up from a comatose state meeting his caretaker Reece.  Crazy stuff happens, Reece falls victim to a level of insanity that prompts Nimble Jack to take notice.  From there a battle ensues between Declan and Nimble Jack with Reece caught up in the middle. Declan introduces Reece and us to the The Hunger World where Nimble Jack pursues.  Any ways, even though the existence of Nimble Jack was cloudy at best Declan is a real person and as he uses his powers his body temp decreases, unlike Jack’s.  That’s an important piece of knowledge but I’m not going go into that any further.  

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Comic Review: Transformers Robots in Disguise #34 (IDW Publishing) – EARTH SHATTERING ISSUE!

Published by IDW Publishing, October 2014
Story: John Barber
Art: Livid Ramondelli
Colors: Livid Ramondelli
Letterer: Tom B. Long
Covers By: Andrew Griffith, Casey W. Coller, and Ken Christiansen

TransformersRID-34-v2

Synopsis: I have been a long time fan of the Transformers series since Dreamwave had the license.  Now that IDW Publishing has the license they have been pumping out pure reading pleasure for quite some time now.  Some of the content has been great while some could be forgotten and forever pulled from the transformers timeline.  When John Barber and James Robert took over the writing for the two series spawned from the rebirth of Cybertron I honestly couldn’t wait to get started.  I’ve enjoyed both series and find myself liking More Than Meets The Eye more than Robots in Disguise, now just Transformers Volume 2 starting with issue #35.

This issue #34 changed my outlook on how the series would progress after the Dark Cybertron crossover event and the Dawn of the Autobots.  This one issue, this earth shattering, eye popping, holy *beep* I’m literally freaking out issue written by John Barber provided a black hole of sorts in the storyline of the Transformers universe.  It opened the door to what has always plagued the Transformers series and that is new content.  Both John and James have created an immense amount of new material and I thank both of them for that.  However John created new content in the form of history and that is why I’m freaking out!

Alpha Trion has been rescued by the Autobot/Decepticon group led by the now renamed again Optimus Prime but secretly Prowl seems to be pulling most of the strings.  Yes as crazy as he has been acting around the group and with his new Constructicon buddies, Prowl still has some core issues resonating from within him that’ll surface soon; surface in a negative way.  That being said, can I just say Arcee is badass now that she has a conscience!?!?  I’m hoping her curiosity around newly found female Autobots such as Windblade and Chomia will compel her to inquire about her uncanny resemblance to Alpha Trion.  Any ways, with all the craziness that is happening and the sad but only downside that this taking place near Earth has kept me glued to what happens next.  Boy did I not expect that Alpha Trion and Optimus Prime would sneak away for a quick mind blowing story around Galvatron and Nova near the of age where the last Prime was none other than…yeah, spoiler, Alpha Trion.

TransformersRID-34-AlphaTrionLastPrime

John Barber writes in great detail the fabled meeting between Nova Major (later known as Nova Prime) and Galvatron of the Darklands.  Prior to this important meeting was another even less known yet possibly of greater significance was the meeting between Alpha Trion and Galvatron of the Darklands back in issue #30.  Galvatron had just finished wiping out the Headmaster and his army, followers of Nexus Prime 10 million years ago during the first Cybertronian civil war.  You should give that issue a read for more info on that meeting.

We learn a little history about the 13 Tribes of Cybertron united under one ruler, one Prime.  Yes, there were in fact 13 Primes residing on Cybertron. In that fateful meeting between Galvatron and Nova Major we learn that there is an object referred only as the Enigma.  This object holds the power of combination.  That power, controlled only by Nexus Prime who lost to history as Nova Prime fled taking those secrets with him. In this issue John drops bomb after bomb literally seeding the groups journey with tidbits of potential subplots and informational off shoots that could very well lead down future comic book stories of historical importance.  However each of those tiny literary bombs are apparently, and I quote, “…a tale for another time” and I can only hope that time is sooner rather than later.  The group search for Onyx, an unknown but significant Cybertronian who has gone off the grid so to speak.  Nova Major states very clearly that the 13 Tribes shall be consolidated down under one Prime.  Nova Major shall now be known as Nova Prime and a new golden age for Cybertron shall arise.  “There shall be a place for everyone in our new world and everyone shall be in there place.”  This stark view only solidifies Nova’s true ruthless intentions.  Optimus Prime was pretty upset at this news that Alpha Trion allowed Nova to become the first of the corrupt lineage of Primes.  In hindsight, Alpha Trion understands that it was wrong but at the time a necessary means to unite the tribes.

TransformersRID-34-OptimusUpset

We later see Nova Prime with that all too familiar scientist Jhiaxus working away on the idea of combination.  It seems like the power of combination has been lost with Nexus Prime and Alpha soon learns that Galvatron has been hiding a very tantalizing piece of information concerning the Enigma.  This realization provides the backdrop to what really took place between the final encounter between Galvatron and Nexus, prior to meeting Alpha and Nova.  We see that Galvatron is deeply disturbed by the Enigma of combination and how it has diluted the purity of the Cybertronian race.  However for me what happens next is why I titled this review “Earth Shattering” and that reason is at the end of our story.  Galvatron defeats Nexus Prime and picks up the Enigma, an object of uncanny resemblance to the Matrix.

TransformersRID-34-Enigma

STOP…think…the Matrix, the thing that stopped The Void at the end of the Chaos Theory storyline, Optimus Prime and Rodimus Prime carried it, ignited the rebirth of Cybertron?  Yeah, a Matrix from a now dead Nexus Prime, one of the 13 Tribes.  That means including the Enigma, there are 12 Matrix objects out there holding potentially unbelievable power but more importantly we now have the potential for endless new content concerning the Transformers Universe.  John Barber, my hat is off for you and your crew.  Lets ditch this Planet once we find the Enigma and get on with the quest for Knights of Cybertron or better yet if we want to call them the original Primes of Cybertron’s 13 Tribes.

Layout & Flow: Ken Christiansen did an amazing job on the retailer incentive cover commemorating 30 years of Transformers.  Both Andrew and Casey also did fantastic jobs on their covers, like they usually do causing me much grief when trying to decide which one to order.  In a world where money and space do not matter then yes, I would buy all 3 but unfortunately that just isn’t the case for me. 

As for the layout and flow, like both current series of More Than Meets The Eye and this one Robots in Disguise, dialog can be lengthy creating the need for smaller and more numerous boxes in each panel for storytelling needs.  I’m never disappointed with the art from either of these series.  However keep in mind it can put strain on the eyes as it muddles down the detail on some of the panels in order to get an action sequence with dialog placed correctly on the page.  With Digital comics you can zoom in and see more while the old fashioned, highly prized by me paper comic is well, you get what you get.

One thing you can always count on from IDW and the Transformer family is consistency, in some form or another.  The characters are usually drawn very consistently and I applaud Livid Ramondelli for striving to do just that.

Verdict: I have been a Transformers fan since forever and when both series were announced I was thrilled.  The miniseries like Windblade, Monstrosity, and Primacy have all been more candy to consume in the IDW Publishing candy store.  What I truly enjoyed about the current Transformer universe was that single fact that humans were excluded.  I so enjoy each series knowing that I don’t have to deal with the human element.  Although we have found ourselves again back on lame ass Earth in Transformers Robots in Disguise, name now converting to just Transformers Vol 2 after this issue #34, I hope to god that it won’t span too long.  Since what was discovered in this very issue, earth shattering as it was for me (…pun intended…), the series literally has an immense amount of potential to exploit, new characters to read about, titans to find, primes to discover, that Earth is no longer a desired storyline that I would like to read about.  It has been overused and abused and I’m so done.  John Barber, for the love of god, please make this storyline involving Earth end quickly.

Rating: 5/5

Official Site: Transformers Robots in Disguise #34
Wiki Site: Transformers Robots in Disguise

Comic Review: Roche Limit #1 (Image Comics)

Published by Image Comics, September 2014
Story: Michael Moreci, Vic Malhotra, and Steeve Seeley
Art: Vic Malhotra
Colors: Jordan Boyd
Letterer: Ryan Ferrier
Covers By: Vic Malhotra

RocheLimitIssue1-ImageComics

Synopsis: The title and cover imagery caught my eye, so I picked it upThe Roche limit is the distance within which a celestial body, held together only by it’s own gravity, will disintegrate due to a second celestial body’s tidal forces exceeding the first body’s gravitational self-attraction.  Inside the Roche limit, orbiting material disperses and forms rings whereas outside the limit material test to coalesce.  So as you can see, this story could imply anything from a physical object to even an idea, depending upon the authors intended approach to the story.  With space being the theme and the underlying despair of the working class vs the narcissistic wealthy illuminate a potential catalyst for impending destruction.  Destruction of what?  An idea?  Science? The colony perhaps?  Well, to be honest it could be all of that rolled up in one making this story reflect upon what drives us to explore, to live, or simply survive.

We open up to an idea, the fruit of those ideas, and the eventual hell that has sprouted from those so-called advances.  The Roche Limit Colony apparently had good intentions but now has become somewhat of a wasteland.  Enter in Recall, a drug only produced on the Roche Limit Colony home world of Dispater.  Doesn’t sound like a great drug but as with any space adventure, one needs to escape the adventure so this seems to be a perfect candidate to help lost souls do just that.

Sonya Torin (searching for her sister Bekkah Torin) and Alex (enterprising Recall drug producer) go on the hunt to find Sonya’s sister.  Not to keen on why Alex is helping Sonya out only that choices have reluctantly led him to this point in the story.  He does however setup a cool visual on how Recall mixed with hallucinogens can affect your mind (poor Warren).  Other character that we hear about in issue #1 is Mr. Moscow whom is somewhat of a big shot or mob boss like. Another major player goes by the name of Gracie and runs a club that looks more like a stripper club than a night club.  She’s also missing a girl, Jane, employing any means necessary to find her.  Before the book ends we see where Jane is being held against her will and another girl that I can only assume is Sonya’s sister Bekkah but I’ve been wrong before.

So with two missing girls and 2 factions searching for those girls I can see we have the beginning of an intriguing mystery on our hands.  No you say, well turn to the last page and have that slap you across your face.  What can that glowing thingy be that those kids found in a rather large flower looking object.  And lastly, what the hell, I thought Dispater was inhabitable because of the thick layer of carbon dioxide?  I see stars, night sky, am I miss something?

Layout & Flow: The layout is very basic for a comic published by Image but to be honest that’s fine.  Doesn’t need to be flashy to keep me engaged as long as the story keeps me engaged.  Each panel is simple and easy to follow. A few pages in provides a few images and descriptions of where the Roche Limit Colony is located.  It also describes this mysterious energy anomaly so that was a nice addition.

Verdict: To be honest the story opened up nicely, then got a little boring, but left me hanging off the cliff with the rather out-of-place image of those kids.  I hope that this energy anomaly will be described in greater detail as the story progresses because that’s the science that initially got me hooked to read this book in the first place.  Image Comics describes the new series as a blending between 2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner.  I’ve seen both movies and they are known to be long, boring, with short action sequences.  I mean I did enjoy Blade Runner but it was plagued with monotonous artsy scenes concerning deep thought and don’t get me on 2001: A Space Odyssey, snoring fest.  Why couldn’t they blend it with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Total Recall, hell yeah! “Get your ass to mars!” Any ways, I’m interested but it needs to deliver more next issue.

Rating: 3.5/5

Official Site: Roche Limit
Wiki Site: Scientific Term – Roche Limit

Comic Review: Deadpool vs. X-Force #1, 2, 3, and 4 (Marvel)

Published by Marvel, September 2014
Story: Duane Swierczynski
Art: Pepe Larraz
Colors: Nolan Woodard
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Covers By: Shane Davis, Morry Hollowell,  and Scott Campbell

Synopsis: Deadpool has come a long way from his first appearance in New Mutants #98.  He’s also become much more than what his original creators artist Rob Liefeld and writer Fabian Nicieza intended him to be.  An issue where change was happening all around that issue as New Mutants was moments away from being rebranded as the new title X-Force.  It was also Domino’s first appearance, although later it was revealed that in fact it was Copycat’s first appearance.  The 90’s reeked of characters on steroids, bad hair, and poor writing.  Definitely didn’t see the emergence of a character such as Deadpool to matter much in the overall scheme of things when looking at the Marvel universe as a whole.  I mean who knew that Deadpool would become the hot property that he is today.  Practically in every mainstream storyline and variant comic cover.

Deadpool Wiki Site

I’m still amazed that he hasn’t had a solo movie yet, especially after all the successes Disney and Marvel have had at the box office as of late.  Guardians of the Galaxy was a major risk but has done extremely well to date.   At least new test footage and a confirmed movie release date have been publicized recently.  If you haven’t seen the test footage with Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool then please do check it out…now, disregard my blog, forget what you are reading…and watch!

With the huge success of Deadpool vs. the Marvel Universe we’ve now had a consecutive new Deadpool miniseries release one right after the other from a revolving door of topnotch writers. I’ve listed them out below:

So in this story we open up with Deadpool in the past kicking some major redcoat tail. With gun in hand and mouth locked and loaded he easily mows down all that stand in his way.   This is where we learn that Deadpool does keep notes, notes on who not to kill.  I imagine these will come in hand for Deadpool is not known for asking questions first, then shooting, because after all he’s getting paid mucho bucks!  Enter Cable and Talbot and there time twisted relationship.  After a brief description and an introduction to the famous X-Force team we strap in for what will be a wild time shifting ride.  Our X-Force team first meets Deadpool in what is Colonial America in the year 1777.  Deadpool is quite the formidable opponent and before X-Force can get to him he time shifts to a later period, Gettysburg 1863.  They soon follow after finding Deadpool’s notebook, oh darn, there goes the neighborhood.

First off the cover of book 2 I found rather amusing as it depicted Deadpool playing with his little X-Force action figures, potentially peppering a little foreshadowing in part 2 of our story.  Our X-Force team finds themselves staring down the confederate army at the battle of Gettysburg, PA July 1863.  As you may well have guessed the loss of life must be kept to a minimum.  That means no unnecessary killing by X-Force, per Cable’s orders of course.  They fight the ill armed Confederate Army but that soon brief confrontation crumbles as past 1777 events of book 1 trickle forward to Gettysburg 1863, in a big way. The Union army take up arms against X-Force and have weapons of mass destruction providing an overwhelming advantage, meaning the Confederates don’t have a chance.  Cable and Deadpool go at it in what will be a great many number of confrontations in this series.  This scuffle leads to a time portal opening where our two main characters merge with it.  Deadpool has the upper hand but for how long who really can tell.

With book 3 we see Cable sporting a new dog collar that allows Deadpool to control Cable’s every movement or so we think.  Now stuck in the 1900’s we learn of the reason that Talbot hired Deadpool.  Talbot sent him back in time with the sole purpose of altering specific key anchors in the time stream.  These anchors are key to Talbot’s plan because, well no spoilers here.  You’ll just need to read the series to learn of his grand master plan.  We also get a status update for each of the X-Force members in their related times.  Another battle ensues between Cable and Deadpool and this time Deadpool falls prey to Cable’s gun.  Although Cable leaves to retrieve his team members in 1863, unbeknownst to Cable, Deadpool is able to pull himself back together continuing his mission of altering the timeline.  First however he needs his trusty portable time machine because yeah, we all got one of those in the back right?

In the final book we get to see Deadpool gone bonkers.  The opening dialog is not to be missed as we see him introduce the 4th and final book in this crazy time jumping adventure.  Holding a “Time Gun” in an infomercial kind of way we witness a demonstration of the device on an unlucky traveler.  This time traveler is systematically erased from the time stream.  Why yes Deadpool, I would like one, how much!  Adolf hanging with Deadpool now isn’t that nice, or is it Deadpool nanny?  Hardly the same Deadpool of today but man was this an exciting series to read. With Cable rescuing the rest of the X-Force team from 1777 Cable jams the colonial troops weapons giving back the tactical advantage to the British troops. Time seemingly cleans itself up swiftly taking the team to 1991 where Talbot rules with his crew of Panzersentinals.  Deadpool joins up with Talbot and his army of Panzersentinals and all hell breaks loose!  In the final round between the two, Cable uses his power to deflect the time gun nailing Talbot thus erasing him from the time stream and undoing his fabricated reality.  One thing, if Cable needs this device as we are told in the beginning of issue one and now he’s erased completely, who invents the time machine?  Does the chicken come before the egg or is it the other way around?  Reading the last page and its reference to New Mutants #98 only made me wanting more but alas this series is over.

Panel/Layout: The art is well drawn by Pepe Larraz and at times I see Deadpool as his true New Mutants #98 depiction, skinny in mind, body, but definitely not spirit.  He is is usual 2014 self, loud, obnoxious, unpredictable, and very dangerous.  Each page has very little space not dedicated to some part of the story.  The colors pop and the action sequences are seamless keeping the reader engaged and wanting more.

Verdict: Overall this was an fun and entertaining 4 issue miniseries that kept me engaged with each page.  The plot was simple, X-Force needed to stop Deadpool at specific junctures where he was attempting to alter the time stream.  The merc with a mouth needs his money and he’ll do whatever it takes to get it.  Definitely one of the better miniseries to read and like Deadpool vs. Carnage I definitely recommend this one.  Now on to the next one Hawkeye vs. Deadpool!

Series Rating: 5/5

Office Site: Deadpool vs. X-Force

Comic Review: Sundowners #1 (Dark Horse Comics)

Published by Dark Horse Comics, August 2014
Story: Tim Seeley
Art: Jim Terry
Colors: Sean Dove
Letterer: CRANK!
Covers By: Chris Brunner & Rico Renzi

Sundowners-1-Cover

Synopsis: I heard Tim Seeley was starting up another ongoing series. Not with Image Comics but instead with Dark Horse Comics.  I thought well if it’s anywhere near as good as Revival (published by Image Comics) then I wanted to get on-board from the beginning.  The basic premise seems to follow the lines of a self-help group, like alcoholics anonymous but for superhero wannabes, washouts, whichever; you decide. The book opens up with what looks like a retiring superhero providing a cryptic narration that I imagine will make more sense later in the series.

Our main loser, a group therapist, has his own issues that he’s working out and I’m assuming this is a bit like Fight Club.  Releasing ones own anguish at the expense of others. Assembling this new type of group provides this so called therapy for David “Shreds” Shrejic.  We aren’t provided much of a backstory on David except for his fascination with the therapy group and the information from the conversation between him and Dr. Brunner.  David seems a bit superficial, excited to have possibly found a new undiagnosed disorder but as expected with a hidden agenda.  As for the 4 attending this group meeting, each of them takes a somewhat brief turn sharing some event that has recently occurred.  This provides a little insight on who they are and what their perceived superpower is.  We also observe how David describes each of their officially diagnosed disorders and what ails them.

After the meeting concludes the group disperses where some interesting things happen.  A run-in with some strange men trying to kidnap the old guy from the group sets in motion the dramatic ending to the first book.  The mysterious part of the encounter were the seemingly white floating skulls attacking Crowlita.  They appear to be surprised that she can actually see them.  The Citizen and Arcanika come to the rescue with little or no affect on the outcome of the fight concluding the book an intriguing mystery surrounding the group’s perceived superpowers, the kidnappers, and the mysterious floating skulls.  Now in good Seeley fashion the story ends leaving you wanting more, like Revival, so this should be a great series to follow.

Layout & Flow: The comic layout is a bit busy but not so much that it detracts from the overall enjoyment as you flip through each page.   I feel Sean Dove’s use of color gives it more of a, what’s the word I’m looking for, a retro feel that compliments Tim Seeley’s story.  Heavy usage of black lines aids in clearly identifying each panel and box along with object shading.  It also makes for some interesting facial expressions, especially in Arcanika’s story.

Verdict: Overall I did enjoy the book.  As expected it was a bit cryptic in spots since Mr. Seeley likes to hit the floor running throwing bits of detail, however random at the time, in order to hook you.  For me it was a win, hook, line, and sinker; you won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 4/5

Official Site: Sundowners
Wiki Site: Tim Seeley

Comic Review: Pop #1 (Dark Horse Comics)

Published by Dark Horse Comics, August 2014
Story: Curt Pires
Art: Jason Copland
Colors: Pete Toms
Letterer: Ryan Ferrier
Covers By: Jason Copland

PopDHCover

Synopsis: To be honest the cover was the selling factor for this new miniseries.  I’m used to reading well thought out science fictions stories from the likes of Jonathan Hickman and Rick Remender. Now that being said I had a simmering amount of hope that this miniseries would deliver a somewhat gratifying story.  After all, the thought of growing a Paris Hilton (…not a fan of Paris Hilton…just want to be clear on that…) that you own, what an idea.  Boy was I surprised to find no substance with the opener, hardly any science to back the story, and no tantalizing details about how our young main character was created. All the reader got was a big round gooey blue ball.  The background on a few of these panels were just cheesy, I mean, think cheesy props from the movie Buckaroo Banzai with lackluster characters. I know that sounds pretty harsh but comics are hot right now.  You gotta take a niche topic like what Pop is trying to run with and exploit the hell out of it because the storyline definitely has major potential.  I mean it kind of fell in line with Brian Wood’s recent Image series Mara where corporations sponsored you.  This takes it a step further where a corporation literally owns you, your parent of sorts. Albeit the delivery wasn’t the best we still have 3 issues to go so there’s hope.

We start out our story with a brief view into the inner workings of raising and creating the next big star; did I say brief?  Then we our main character escape from the plant and our second main character enter into the equation.  We then see the two meet.  One thankful to be alive while the other is thinking of the end.  That initial meeting soon brings a sense of meaning to the both of them allowing for a mutual friendship to grow.  I swear as I flip through this comic I’m seeing brief images of Buckaroo Banzai and it’s making me want to queue up that movie to satisfy my 80s hunger for cheesy ass cult classics.  Any ways, blah blah blah we see some tracing bug get activated but since she is technically under developed, you know what i mean but let me rephrase.  Since she escaped too soon from her cocoon the tracing bug seems to short circuit causing a freakout under her forearm skin.  She’s a complete bad-ass as she cuts the damn thing out of her arm without hesitation.  I had to laugh, it literally looked like a centipede, why the hell a centipede if the scientist refereed to the bug as nanitesNanites are small tiny little robots number in the millions, read Valiant Entertainments series Bloodshot for a reference!  So unfortunately that’s where the writers really lost my interest.  The only redeeming factor to this entire book was the fact that we got to see the knee caps shot out of a Justine Beaver lookalike.  Yeah, for some reason that really did feel satisfying so thank you Mr. Pires.

Layout & Flow: The layout of the comic was done well utilizing most of the space to tell the story.  I felt that Jason Copland took advantage of the real estate and maxed out what he could.  This allowed the action sequences to play relatively well without any issues aligning both the art and story for the reader.  The colors were good, the cover was awesome.  I mean it popped, pun intended!

Verdict: Overall I see why this is a 4 part miniseries and nothing more.  Honestly I’m not even sure I’ll follow up on the rest of the series simple because of the many issues I had with this book.  I realize in a 4 part miniseries that you have limited time and space to get your story across to your readership.  The art does go the distance in aiding the storytelling but I feel it could have had more eye-catching detail if only the story had that additional detail written to aid the artist Jason Copland.  I guess I’m just to used to reading sci-fi stories by Jonathan Hickman and Rick Remender.  There seems to be a trove of willing artists in need of collaboration with those two.  If you don’t believe me then just look at some of the current releases from these guys.  I’m sure it’s hard to compete but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t.

Rating: 2/5

Official Site: Pop

Freeing My PGX Graded Uncanny X-Men #207

Over the years I have read about both positive and negative experiences with grading companies. There is a consensus in the industry that grading companies are necessary and do serve their purpose a certain situations. Mainly I see it as a great way to get an unbiased 3rd eye view of ones’ comic. These services promise for a fee that the comic you submit will be reviewed by grading experts, encapsulated, protected with archival paper, sealed away, and then safely shipped back to you beautifully preserved for your everyday viewing pleasure. These companies also have helped create a standardization in grading levels. So as a consumer I can only imagine that these grading companies would strive to provide the best service and follow best practices when it comes to grading comics as a reputation is placed on the line after each transaction. If a grading company should ever tarnish its grading image by shady grading and business then that company probably would have a hard time dealing and/or surviving the eventual public backlash.

That being said PGX came into the market as a likely strong competitor to the well-known CGC grading company. However with all the controversy during PGX and grading practices during its infancy has left PGX in a position of 2nd best to CGC. I think the PGX holder is better than CGC but PGX is unable to command the same price as a similarly graded CGC comic. Why is that? Well, I’d like to fall back on the reputation suggestion as my answer. PGX has baggage and even through that baggage was created back in 2006, it still haunts the company’s image today. Say what you want but everyone falls back on the TMNT #1 first print YouTube video that is synonymous with PGX grading. Yes, I’ve heard issues with CGC but I honestly can’t refer to any specifics. I can however with PGX and therein lies PGX’s image.

I still consider myself an infant when it comes to comic book collecting. I’ve been collecting just under 6 years now. I’ve even submitted comics to CGC for grading. I also have learned to use CGC and PGX graded comics as a reference when in need of a reliable example when it comes to grading my own comics. I love everything about comics and yes I too love holding that acrylic holder in my hands. There’s something about that holder that makes you feel just a little giddy inside; could just be me though.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 First Printing Controversy

One such negative experience that has somewhat become a YouTube legend was the poor fellow that had submitted his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 First Printing to PGX for grading. Upon receiving the newly graded comic from PGX took it upon himself to video document the process of cracking and verifying that the book he sent in was actually the book he got back. As the audience we got a front row seat as this guy discovers it’s actually not the comic he submitted.

PGX Grading Controversy

I found an old site with pictures concerning the controversy around the restoration of PGX graded comics that had been submitted by Terrance Leder. The site contains a lot of dialog from PGX concerning mistakes that had been made prior to 2007 and was definitely worth a read if you are interested.

Here are some positive and negative stories concerning PGX.

Unwrapping Uncanny X-Men #207

I’ve always been a bit curious on how PGX grades and seals submitted comics and thought that if the opportunity ever presented itself that I would crack one open as a type of discovery mission and document what I find. I wanted to know whether there was archival paper placed in the proper designated areas and also see how well the newsprint held up whilst sealed in its protective case. Well that opportunity recently did present itself and I was able to snag a very cheap Bronze Age PGX graded comic off of eBay; graded 9, 2007.

I had two goals, the first was to find out whether PGX abided to their claims of prepping and preserving the graded comic. Second, I wanted to review the overall health of the comic, including front and back covers and the newsprint to see how it held up over its 7 year period (2007-2014). I’m thinking this could well be a topic that I revisit at some point in the near future concerning comics graded by CGC.

Uncanny X-Men #207 – Graded 1/2007
Here we have the front and back views of the comic already cracked and removed from the plastic acrylic case. As you can see the comic is completely sealed in the plastic insert along with the label and hologram.

PGX Front View (No Acrylic Case)

PGX Back View (No Acrylic Case)

Below I show the process of cutting away the PGX label section and exposing the sealed comic from the 2007 era atmosphere. It could quite possibly be emerging into an even more poluted environment, although I’d like to think that the Seattle area has better air quality than most cities.

PGX Label: In Process of Removal

PGX Label: Removed

I wanted to show how white the pages are still after 7 years of containment within the sealed PGX provided environment. As you can see the color is still vibrant as show in the left picture. There are not signs of degrading, staining, or browning/tanning from various sources like UV light and acidity levels in the newsprint.

Inside Front Cover

Inside Comic

This is a good view of the top and bottom edges of the comic where you can see sharp corners with no issues.

View: Top

View: Bottom

Same goes to the side views where where the corners are sharp. However you can see a couple very minute spine stresses on the binding edge.

View: Right Side

View: Binding/Left Side

Here is a view of the front and back covers and as you can see there are not stains present or issues with the whiteness level of the back cover. There are however a very few and very minor spine stresses seen from on front cover. They were present prior to freeing the comic from its imprisonment.

View: Front Cover

View: Back Cover

At first I noticed that the signiture Archival Paper was missing that should be located on the inside of the front and back covers. I then turned to the next page and found the piece of Archival Paper that PGX inserted prior to sealing. Notice how small the piece is, remember that.

Inside Front Cover

Inside Front Cover +1 Page

I performed the same check on the back cover and produced the same results. The Archival Paper was placed a page back from the back cover just like the front cover.

Inside Back Cover

Inside Back Cover +1 Page

Finally, after disassembling my PGX graded Uncanny X-Men #207 and showing the world an example of how PGX preserves and protects your comic from outside forces I now need to follow the same methodology of preserving this comic as best as I can. Below I place 2 pieces of Archival Paper, one on the inside front cover and one on the inside backcover. Notice how my Archival Paper actually fits the Bronze Age comic, unlike what PGX used.

Inside Front Cover: Archival Paper

Inside Back Cover: Archival Paper

For additional stability I place one BCW Extender inside the comic, usually in them middle where you can see the staples. Then I place in an E-Gerber Mylar-D 2mil bag with an E-Gerber Half-Back, taping the flap to the back thus sealing (as best as I can) the comic from outside forces that would be happy to degrade and destroy it.

Inside Middle: BCW Extender

Storage: E-Gerber Mylar-D & Half-Back

So all-in-all I had a fun time disassembling my incased Uncanny X-Men #207 comic from the PGX sealed holder and learned that grading is definitely in the eye of the beholder. I feel like the archival paper placed inside the front and back covers was somewhat inadequate for the newsprint. I say this because, and yes it’s hard to see, but the paper color near the bottom where the archival paper was not present seems to be a slightly darker color than where the archival paper was placed. It could just be a coincidence but just saying. Below I’ve listed 3 grading companies two of which are well known and a 3rd is a relative new comer CBCS. Started by CGC’s Ex-President promises lower prices, more transparency, and something I’ve wanted to see from CGC for some time now and that is grading notes for free!

Grading Services – as of 8/2014

  1. CBCS ComicsGrading Policy
  2. CGC ComicsGrading Policy
  3. PGX ComicsGrading Policy