Category Archives: collected comic

Comic Book Friday: Star Trek: Year Five: Odyssey, Volume 1

Star Trek: Year Five - Odyssey's End (Book 1)The final two years of the starship Enterprise‘s five-year mission have proved a fertile ground for storytelling and examination over the past several decades. Pocket Books has multiple tie-in novels from the era and then a hit-or-miss series about the “Lost Years” between the end of the five-year mission and the start of the motion picture series.

Now, IDW attempts to give fans the final year of Captain James T. Kirk and company’s tenure on the starship Enterprise with Star Trek: Year Five. This collection of the first six issues of the series contains three complete “episodes” that attempt to blend the stand-alone storytelling of the original Star Trek with the season-long arcs that are prevalent today. The hybrid works well enough, giving us some interesting character exploration as Kirk faces the prospect of becoming an admiral coupled with regrets about his past (his relationship with Carol and David Marcus serves as a launching point for the middle installment of the arc). There’s even an apparent rift developing between Kirk and Spock (which interestingly plays into Pocket Books’ “The Lost Years” saga) and the crew potentially becoming involved in some squabbling between the Tholians (last seen trapping our crew in their web).

The storytelling and artwork for these six collected issues is spot-on an feels like they came right out of a potential fifth season of the classic series. It’s interesting to see the crew go back to “A Piece of the Action” to examine the implications of McCoy leaving his communicator behind (this is also explored by Peter David in his comic arc “The Trial of James T. Kirk” for D.C. years ago). The characters are well represented and some of the crew that aren’t Kirk, Spock, or McCoy get a moment or two to shine as well.

In short, this is a diverting and entertaining collection of stories that Star Trek fans will enjoy.

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Comic Book Friday: Batman Volume 7: The Wedding

Batman, Volume 7: The WeddingAs Kevin Smith has often pointed out, comic books are mainly concerned with the middle part of the story. This explains why certain plot points are introduced in one issue only to see them nullified a few issues later. Such is the case with superhero relationships and potential romantic pairings.

So it is with Batman and this collection of issues leading up to the big marriage of Batman to Catwoman. Either the series was getting ready to have a major change to the status quo of Batman or else there would be a big reset button hit before Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle got to the altar.

SPOILER ALERT: It’s the reset button.

But even before we get to the altar, there are about a hundred pages of treading water to get us there. Putting aside the double sized issue that is the wedding issue with splash pages by some of the most influential names in Batman lore, there are two collected arcs here leading up to the wedding. One is Booster Gold trying to make Batman happy and failing miserably at doing so (which should be a warning as to where all this is going) and the other is Joker and Catwoman battling it out, becoming mortally wounded and then discussing their history together for what feels like an eon.

I was beginning to get frustrated with both stories without having to wait a month or so between issues. Whether I would have enjoyed them more in single installments spread out over time is up for debate, but I have a feeling I’d be left feeling frustrated.

I’ve heard some good things about Tom King’s run on the Dark Knight. And I suppose he had some big shoes to fill when Scott Snyder left. But from what I’ve read here, I’m not in a huge hurry to pick up more of his collected editions. I may at some point out of curiosity. But I am not exactly in a hurry.

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Comic Book Friday: Shazam!, Volume 1

Shazam!Until the rumblings of a potential Shazam movie, my only real point of reference with the character was a Saturday morning cartoon that I vaguely recall from my youth. And beyond the fact that someone shouted, “Shazam!” to turn into the super hero version of themselves, I couldn’t have been more clueless when it comes to a comic book character.

Then, I saw the preview out of San Diego Comic Con for next year’s Shazam! movie and I was intrigued. Part of it could be the casting of Zachary Levi, who I loved on Chuck. And part of it could be that the trailer actually made it look like someone was having fun being a superhero in the DCEU.

So, I decided to check out the new take on Shazam’s origin in this collected edition. And man, if the movie is half as much fun as this comic is, I think the DCEU could finally be on to something. Reading this take on the origin of Shazam, I can’t help but think that Levi is perfect casting for this role as he really got the whole “boy trapped in the body of a grown-up” on Chuck.

Orphaned Billy Batson has moved from foster home to foster home, seemingly never finding a place he fits in. When a new set of foster parents adopts him as part of their family, Billy starts looking for a way out. While running away, he encounters a mystical wizard looking to bestow ancient power on someone who is truly worthy and pure of heart. Alas, Billy Batson ain’t exactly first choice, but he’s the only choice available (and he does have some history of at least trying to be better) and suddenly he can transform into an adult with super powers.

So, like most teens who can suddenly pass for adults, Billy and his foster brother decide not to save the world or stem the tide of evil, but instead go for beer. Eventually, Billy will have to face off against Black Adam, the yin to his Captain Marvel yang.

Seriously, if they just wanted to adapt the story that Geoff Johns has crafted here as the movie, they’d be doing well. I’d be one of the first in line to see it (assuming that there isn’t something animated opening that Shortcake might want to see more, mind you). Reading this and watching the preview, I find myself looking forward to a DC superhero movie for the first time since The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises I also find myself wanting to pick up more installments of Shazam in the future to see where this character may go next.

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Comic Book Friday: The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows Volumes 0, 1 & 2

Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, Vol. 2: The Venom ExperimentA decade ago, the controversial “One Day More” storyline saw the Spider-universe hit a ginormous reset button and remove the marriage of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson from the continuity. Years later, another huge crossover event would, the second (or is it the third) Secret Wars storyline saw the creation of a parallel universe where Peter and MJ are still married and raising a daughter.

Their daughter, May, has similar powers to those of her father. In the wake of an evil overlord named Monarch who seems intent on collecting all the super powers he can get his mitts on, Peter is hopping to stay one step ahead of the latest detection devices for himself and his daughter. But when they get noticed and rumors of the Spider-Man’s return begin to surface, Peter finds himself fighting to defend his family — and now the family wants to join the fight.

The resolution of that storyline encompasses volume 0 of this series and then things really get going on volumes 1 and 2. Written by long-time Spider-writer Gerry Conway, these collection of arcs is a lot more fun than they have any right to be. Having recently revisited Conway’s tenure on Amazing Spider-Man, I wasn’t sure what, if anything, I should expect from these issues. But after trying to read much of the current storylines taking place in the Spider-Man universe, I found these refreshingly easy to digest, straight-forward and welcoming to readers who haven’t memorized every detail of comic book continuity for the past decade. Seeing Peter try to juggle his secret identity along with the demands of the two women in his life to be part of the crime-fighting team gives the story some much needed depth. The second collection even raises the stakes a bit by having MJ become motivated to contribute to the team (tech left over from Monarch lets her share Peter’s powers) and turning to Liz Allen for a new version of the Venom symbiote.

These three collections are some of the best recent Spider-Man stories I’ve read and they reminded me of what it was that I initially loved so much about my favorite wallcrawler.

 

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Comic Book Friday: Normandy Gold by Megan Abbot and Alison Gaylin

Normandy GoldMegan Abbott and Alison Gaylin team-up for the Hard Case Crime series’ first graphic novel, Normandy Gold.

A love-letter to 70’s thrillers, this six-issue miniseries reads just like you’d expect — hard hitting, hard drinking, and completely over the top. In short, it’s a blast…if you’re in the right frame of mind for it.

When her stripper sister goes missing, Normandy Gold heads to D.C. to find out what really happened. What she finds is a vortex of lies, deceit, and underhand dealings that extend the highest levels of power.

A fun, entertaining ride that reminds me of just what it is about the Hard Case Crime series I enjoy so much.

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Comic Book Friday: Spider-Man/Deadpool, Vol. 0: Don’t Call It A Team-Up

Spider-Man/Deadpool Vol. 0: Don't Call It A Team-UpWith Spider-Man and Deadpool ranking as two of the quippiest characters in all of comics, it was probably only a matter of time until the two crossed paths (just don’t call it a team-up!).

Collecting a dozen or so various issues, Spider-Man/Deadpool: Don’t Call It A Team-Up has some good stories, so so-so stories, and one that is a great technical achievement but at fifty pages overstays its welcome.

Sending Deadpool back in time and having him inhabit the pages of Amazing Spider-Man #47 is an idea that should have a lot of fun. Between imitating the classic styling of John Romita to wholesale digitally inserting Deadpool and other characters from his universe into the original panels, there’s a lot to admire from an artistic point of view. However, like too many Saturday Night Live skits, the story stays long after the joke has stopped being interesting or amusing. Running at close to 50 pages, I kept hoping this wasn’t an indication of what was to come for the rest of this collection. Continue reading

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Comic Review: Back to the Future: Untold Tales and Alternate Timelines

Back to the Future: Untold Tales and Alternate Timelines (Back to the Future #1)=Back to the Future is one of those movies I’ve seen so many times, I could probably recite the dialogue from start to finish. And yet any time I surf past it on cable, I’m inclined to stop and watch from wherever I’ve jumped in until the end.

So when I heard that there was a new series of comic books that filled in a few untold tales from the popular trilogy, I immediately decided to give it a try. Thankfully, the collection includes original movie author Bob Gale as a contributor. And while none of what we get in the collection would necessarily be canon, there are still some fun tales here.

Collecting five issues of stories, this collection has something for everyone. Whether it’s the story of Biff going back in time to the age of dinosaurs or the circumstances of Marty’s first meeting with Doc Brown, there are several winners in the collection. And unlike other media tie-in comics, it’s easy to recognize the characters we’ve come to know and love over the course of three movies. (It’s a pet peeve of mine when the art becomes so abstract that it’s hard to tell who is being depicted in a tie-in comic book).

If you’re a fan of Back to the Future, this is a fun collection that will remind you of just why you fell in love with the original movie to begin with. And if you’re like me, it may even tempt you to dust off the movies and spend some time with a few old friends again.

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Comic Book Friday: Marvel Masterworks: Amazing Spider-Man, Volume 14

Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 14Collecting a dozen or so issues from the mid-70’s run, Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man, Volume 14 showcases a successful comic book and character treading water for close to three-hundred pages.

Yes, Harry Osborne finally goes over the edge and embraces his inner Green Goblin. But like his father before him, he will conveniently forget that a)he’s the Goblin and b)Peter Parker is Spider-Man by the time anyone in authority arrives. Harry’s transformation is teased across multiple issues (and I believe they started planting seeds as early as issues in the last collection). But the return of the Green Goblin lacks the emotional punch it could or should have, possibly because the last time we saw Spidey tangle with the Gobin it was one of the high points not only of the character but one of the iconic turning points in comic books.

Other villains include the return of the Molten Man and Mysterio and new threats like the Mind Worm and the Grizzly. Yes, you read that right. Spider-Man spends not one but two issues battling it out with a former wrestler who has an enhanced grizzly bear costume and has decided its time to give J. Jonah Jameson his comeuppance for ruining his wrestling career. And yes, I’ve just re-read that sentence and I know how silly it sounds. The comic book presentation isn’t much better.

Of course, the infamous start of a certain saga that nearly killed Spider-Man as we know it in the 90’s is also beginning here. So, maybe part of my lack of love for this collection of issues is knowing where it will all pay off in twenty years’ time. Or maybe it’s just that writer Gerry Conway’s stories don’t really add all that much to the Spidey canon. Look, I know not every issue from my favorite era of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko were masterpieces. But at least there was always some hook, some threat or some narrative point to keep me interested. That’s not often the case here. These issues feel like they come down to a formula for writing and Conway’s just happy to plug in various characters as we move slowly between battles with that issue or arc’s central villain. It comes down to Spidey meets villain, Spidey gets his you-know-what handed to him by said villain, Spidey as Peter beats himself up about it and interacts with the supporting cast, Spidey goe out and find the villain again and the battle goes Spidey’s way this time. Lather, rinse, repeat.

It’s all so formulaic in nature — and I think reading the issues close together in a collection like this only underlines this. I can’t help but think if I read these monthly as they originally came out (or were reprinted), I might end up enjoying them a bit more. Or be more forgiving of certain tropes that seem to show up issue after issue like clockwork.

This collection is Spider-Man fully on cruise control. And in a collection that features the Spider Buggy (yes, that was a thing!), that’s pretty damn ironic.

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Comic Book Friday: Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 10

Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 10Stan Lee always wrote his comics as if each issue was someone’s first entry into the universe of that particular hero or team of heroes. So there are times reading any collected edition of his works that you may feel like the story is repeating itself a great deal or going back to reflect on the origin of whatever hero or team he’s chronicling.

And while that happens a bit in this collection of The Amazing Spider-Man, it’s hard to find a few gems from a creative team that was firmly in a grove at this point. Collecting issues 88 to 99 of the original run, Spidey does battles some classic and not-so-classic foes all while Peter Parker’s life is upended by his decision to continue being Spider-Man. The collection includes a couple of pivotal events in the life of Spider-Man from the death of Captain Stacy to the infamous drug addiction storyline that Marvel had the courage to print without the endorsement of the comic code authority. Re-reading this story now, it seems a bit light-weight and a bit like something you’d see on a daytime drama. But looked at through the prism of when it was published, it’s downright revolutionary and hard-hitting. Continue reading

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Review: Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War

Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War

When the best thing you can say about a comic book cross-over event is — well, at least the art was nice, you know something isn’t quite working. Or maybe that this particular cross-over event isn’t your cup of tea.

Collecting the six-issue run of Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War, this limited run series is not two great tastes that taste great together. In one reality, the Green Lantern corp has just been wiped out by some evil force. Rings of various colors hop over to the JJ Trek verse and assign themselves to familiar faces in the final frontier.

Adventure ensues. Along the way, there’s a massive battle between all the various colors of the spectrum and the planet Vulcan comes back from the dead, complete with zombie Vulcans.

And yet for all of this, I couldn’t help but feel that I’d arrived late for the party and missed some important details that reduced my enjoyment of this crossover event. It could be that my familiarity with Green Lantern is limited to what I’ve seen in the DC cartoons and the big screen version of the character with Ryan Reynolds. I hope that those who are more versed in Lantern lore will get more of seeing why various rings chose certain characters that I missed here. And I suppose if I recognized any of the Green Lantern pantheon of foes beyond Sinestro, I might have felt a bit more drive and drama to the battle to save the universes.

Instead, what I felt for much of this collection (beyond the first issue) was confused and uninterested. The third issue does little more than tread water as we set up things for the return of zombie Vulcan and Scotty inventing his own power ring.

In all honesty, I can’t necessarily recommend this one to a casual fan. It feels like we’ve got a shoehorning of the JJ-verse Star Trek characters into a Green Lantern event mini-series. And it’s one that left me as cold as General Chang’s bones in space at the end of this story.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this comic book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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