comic book review

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: 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

Comic Review: Low #1 (Image Comics)

Published by Image Comics, August 2014
Story: Rick Remender
Art: Greg Tocchini
Colors: Greg Tocchini
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Covers By: Greg Tocchini


Synopsis: Another story by Rick Remender and don’t worry, it isn’t a bad thing. He’s been on fire as of late with ideas literally falling from his head. Yeah, I mean that literally because with all the projects he’s writing for over the past 2 years I picture him holding a bucket under his head as he tilts it displaying a waterfall like scene of ideas spewing from the man’s head.  Any ways, so here we are with another series from Image Comics concerning an apocalyptic storyline with a slightly different twist. Taken from the afterword, “LOW is a story about one woman’s eternal optimism, to burden the sorrows and the crushing weight of a world without hope.” In a distant future our sun has burned through its main fuel source of hydrogen.  It has begun expanding as it enters into its second stage burning the next most abundant fuel source, helium. On earth, what remains of man now resides near the ocean floor. There has been a long running attempt to find an inhabitable place off-planet with no success and time is running out.

We open up our story with Johl and Stel having just finished exercising so to speak.  We are provided a brief but informative standing of the current state of earth and its inhabitants.  We learn of the many probes sent out in search for a new home for what remains of the human population huddled near the ocean floor where the suns radiation can do the least amount of damage. Thousands of years have past and these probes have been unsuccessful with their mission, except one.  During this discussion we learn quite a bit including the tidbit of knowledge concerning a third mythical city. Apparently this city holds some special meaning or purpose to this story and I imagine we’ll be revisiting this topic later in the series.

We then follow the Caine family as both daughters are introduced as the next heirs to the Helm suit. The bloodline of Caine, or better yet the DNA of Caine is the key to activating and controlling the suit. This mysterious looking battle-like suit is apparently very old and provides some type of protection valued enough to become somewhat mystical to the people of this city. Think of it as a small Gundam Wing battle suit or better yet the mythical armor in the current series X-O Manowar by Valiant Entertainment, another favorite publisher I follow. As the girls prep for the hunt with their parents we partake in a brief historical lesson concerning the bloodline of Caine.  We also learn of the Scurvies, although to be honest not much detail is given. The hunt is the pursuit and killing of a half octopus, half giant squid like creature referred to as a Mammoth.  We later learn that it may be more intelligent than previously thought.

Towards the end of our first book we see the eventual antagonist enter stage left and find that these Scurvies do look a bit freaky at first but then more human as we reach the last page of the book. I’m not sure exactly why that is, if it had meaning, or just a disconnect between art and story but the Helm Suit is lost, the kids are taken, father mortally wounded, and a mother with a mission. I’m not sure where this is going but the artwork alone will keep me for a few issues, so let’s see shall we?!

Layout & Flow: First off, holy crap the cover alone would make anyone buy the comic. It’s like flipping through an art book and that being said was about the only thing to be revered as the story is jumbled up a bit. I must admit that some of the imagery is hard to understand in that while reading the story it was hard to gauge the emotional aspect of the Scurvies, besides their leader.  That was the most problematic feature of the artwork and that made it a little difficult to follow the story. I know Remender’s book will make more sense here soon and I hope both art and story sync up nicely in issue #2.

Verdict: Overall the first issue definitely delivered on art work. I mean Greg Tocchini’s art was simply amazing!  On the flipside, Remender’s story needs a little more ground work in order to sync up with both artwork and character placement as I’m still confused at what is exactly going on between both factions of men. I’m also a bit confused who the Scurvies are and why sometimes they are depicted as creature like and then like a common man.  Other than that this was a great first start to an interesting depiction of a future that doesn’t involve an alien invasion!

Rating: 3.5/5

Official Site: Low

Wikipedia: Information on our Sun


Comic Review: Super Secret Crisis War #1 (IDW Publishing)

Published by IDW, June 2014
Story: Louise Simonson
Art: Derek Charm
Colors: Derek Charm
Letterer: Tom B. Long
Covers By: Derek Charm, Troy Little, and Katie Cook

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Synopsis: Oh boy when I heard this was coming out I told my daughter and she was like Powerpuff Girls and Dexter?  Even better Ben 10, Samurai Jack, Ed, Edd, and Eddy, and much much more!  Who’s Samurai Jack?  Oh okay, well that was one of daddy’s favorite cartoons back the golden age of Cartoon Network.  So who’s more excited for this, daddy or Natie?  I guess only time will tell and with this being a 6 issue miniseries with an additional 5 one-shots scheduled to be released this ginormous crossover IDW is pulling together is gonna be one heck of an event this summer.

So after reading I had to explain to my daughter that the bad guys were capturing all of the good guys to use them to take over the universe.  The story was a bit confusing as we literally jumped into this story without really knowing why we were here in the first place.  With each bad guy immediately came the pursuit and eventual capture of their adversary.  Then towards the end we get a stampede of sorts of what looks to be escaped Powerpuff Girl looking robots the Dynamo.  They go after a fifth set of characters that seem to get more play then the rest of what I thought were the main characters in this every expanding crossover.

So that being said this comic is all over the place causing a little confusion as to the purpose of this crossover event.  However that didn’t stop my daughter from wanting to read it, by herself I may add, a second time.  Sure she had questions but nothing to hard to explain.  As for me I sure hope this jumbled plot can pull itself together soon because we have 5 more issues for this event on top of 5 separate one-shot comics of new characters that’ll be thrown into the mix.  Overall I’ll stick to the main crossover for my daughter and skip the one-shots for now.

Related One-shots:

  1. Foster’s home for Imagination Friends
  2. The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy
  3. Johnny Bravo
  4. Codename: Kids Next Door
  5. Cow and Chicken

Panel/Layout: Derek Charm’s line art and colors work well for the story keeping the characters look and feel in line with their related shows.  Ed, Edd, and Eddy have the squiggly lines while Samurai Jack have those sharp pointy signature lines.  It will be interesting to see if Charm’s can keep his momentum while staying true to each character’s design as things intensify.

Verdict: Yeah I’m picking this up, duh! I already have issue #4 on advance order so I’m committed.  It will be a fun read for any kid regardless of the plot.  It may even introduce them to characters apart of the Cartoon Network they didn’t even know existed.  I gave it a 3.5 only because of the jumbled plot.  Moms and Dads, good luck!

Rating: 3.5/5

CBR News: Super Secret Crisis War
Comics Alliance News: Super Secret Crisis War

Comic Review: Spread #1 (Image Comics)

Published by Image Comics, July 2014
Story: Justin Jordan
Art: Kyle Strahm
Colors: Felipe Sobreiro
Letterer: Crank!
Covers By: Kyle Strahm & Felipe Sobreiro

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Synopsis: Right off the bat I’m thinking of the John Carpenter movie “The Thing” with Kurt Russel as the main lead.  Holy crap that movie scared the crap out of me and yeah this book, well it drudged up those same emotional pains that I experienced the first time I saw that movie.  Now for a comic book that’s a great thing cause not many comic books can get me to react that way.  The bleak winter snow oozing an immense amount of red at times provides a stark image of things to come.

This is not a book heavy in dialog and mainly we read the narration of the lead simply named “No”.  Yes it’s an odd name and well, we do learn it’s a nickname so maybe eventually we’ll get more info as the story progresses.  Our other main character is the Spread and oh boy it’s a nasty creature seemingly infecting people, hence spreading its reach and thus expanding out past the initial quarantine zone. No provides us some insight on why he’s at a crash site, that he is immune to the Spread.  He also explains that there are bands of men called Raiders and that they pray upon the week

No rescues a baby from the Raiders, the very same Raiders that took the baby from a scientist as she lay dying on the snow. That scientist was apart of the crew from the crash site where we began our story with No.  For some reason this baby is special and after being chased by Runners, another version of the Spread, we find out why this baby is so important.

Variant Covers:image

Panel/Layout: This book uses it’s page space well with paneling broken out with simple boxes laid out defined by the bright vibrant colors.  Yes it’s Felipe Sobreiro’s use of reds that make it pop.  Violent red contrasting against the purest of white creates an amazing blank canvas of snow allowing the use of fine lines for detailing, especially when viewing the Spread or a variation of the spread as it breaks apart forming new and horrifying versions of itself.

Verdict: Justin Jordan’s story is definitely a winner and I’m so intrigued at where he’ll take us.  But I must admit this comic isn’t for everyone, it’s bloody as hell and to be honest I’m not sure most will hop on the band wagon.  Well, zombies are still pretty gruesome and popular so hopefully I’m wrong.  I hate zombies and I hate reading about them, but i like this book even if it’s disturbing at times.  Just gotta think, take a deep breathe, this isn’t real…

Rating: 5/5

Official Site: Spread

Comic Review: Winterworld #1 (IDW Publishing)

Published by IDW Publishing, June 2014
Story: Chuck Dixon
Art: Butch Guice
Colors: Diego Rodriguez
Letterer: Robbie Robbins
Covers By: Butch Guice & Diego Rodriguez

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Synopsis: This post apocalyptic style comic involves something that may very well be our future depending upon how we continue to affect climate change.  Besides that the story itself concerns 2 characters, Scully and Wynn.  Scully seems to the be level headed leader of the 2 and very much deep in the reality of their situation while Wynn, our 14 year old teenager is miss happy-go-lucky, the optimist of the 2.  We open up to her narration explaining the current state of the planet, frozen and lifeless making every day a life and death struggle.  

We follow these two in their search for Wynn’s parents.  Not much is known about why her parents are missing or how this whole expedition started.  This world reminds me of the movie “The Day After Tomorrow”, poorly executed, the movie I mean but the idea was quite fascinating.  I’m hoping this will explore this world ending scenario.  Things like coming across an aircraft carrier in the middle of a cold barren landscape was totally cool to see visualized.  The idea that the power could be turned on because it has a nuclear reactor.  The scene with the laptop and a Google like landing page displaying, pretty funny.  The fact that the need for transportation truly speaks how hard survival can be, especially traveling long distances.

Panel/Layout: The overall layout is nicely done allowing for the smooth progression of our teams adventure. I can’t form words to describe how amazing Butch Guice’s line art is and Diego Rodriguez’s use of color.  Each panel comes alive with this amazing detail allowing for a minimal narration by Wynn as we move between scenes, the pictures speak for themselves.  The hardships with each new scene and the bitter cold are brought forth through the minimalistic use of basic coloring.   

Verdict: The art is simply amazing and by far half of these new series selling point!  The other is by far the story from our writer Chuck Dixon.  We have something good here that needs to be explored.  Something that can provide a better survival story that what Hollywood can dish out.  I only hope this series continues to push the limits bringing forth both new material and new readers.

Rating: 4/5

CBR Preview: Winter WorldInteractive Trailer: Winter World