Category Archives: comic book review

Comic Book Friday: Star Trek: New Visions, Volume 3 by John Byrne

Star Trek: New Visions, Volume 3Another trio of Star Trek stories done in the tradition of the PhotoNovel series from my younger reading days.

As with all Trek tie-in stories, it can be hit or miss. The good news for this trio of stories is that the hit ratio is a bit better than in the previous installment.

Opening with a story in the Enterprise is pursuing a precursor to a certain modern era Trek entity that we’ll meet in “Q Who,” the collection gets off to an uneven start. Even trying to put aside my inner nitpicker and just enjoy a story in which Kirk gets to tangle with the proto-Borg, I couldn’t get over the fact that John Bryne was trying too hard to draw a connection between the Doomsday Machine and the Borg. Part of this is that Peter David did this almost two decades earlier with his novel, “Vendetta” and that (if my memory serves me right) he did it better. Again, this could be my nostalgia looking back on a book that I consumed in mere days when I was a teenager and have had a strong affection for since. Continue reading

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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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Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas & Ms. Marvel, Vol. 8: Mecca

A good book can take places you’ve never been.  

A great book n only takes you to places you’ve never been, but has those places linger in your thoughts after the final page is turned.

In the past couple of months, I’ve read two books that have taken me outside my typical worldview and have lingered in my thoughts long after the final page was turned.  The first was the much (deservedly so) lauded The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and the other, as unlikely as it may seem, was a new collection of Marvel’s Ms. Marvel comic book, Mecca.   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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Review: Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man, Volume 13

Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 13Collecting a dozen or so issues of the original run of The Amazing Spider-Man, this may represent the most memorable stories of the Gerry Conway era. Starting off with the epic two-part story that “changed comics forever,” “The Night Gwen Stacey Died” set a new tone for the Peter Parker and his secret identity. It’s one of the few comic book deaths (outside of Uncle Ben) that has really stuck, though Marvel has certainly tried to mess with this by having clones of Gwen come back and then later revelations that Gwen and Norman Osborne were hooking up while she was off in London.

The two part story that features the end of Gwen and the original Green Goblin has been retold and given homage in multiple re-tellings of the Spider-Man story. But few are better than what Conway does in these two issues. Knowing the ending allows you to sit back and really examine how Conway and the creative team on ASM toyed with readers of the day, building up and foreshadowing the two major deaths to come.

As if that monumental two-part saga weren’t enough, we also get the introduction of the Punisher to the Marvel-verse and the Jackal to the Spider-verse. And both of these introductions occur in the same issue. The sad part is that said issue isn’t necessarily much to write home about. The Punisher is an interesting force to be reckoned with, but in his debut, he’s pretty much a one-note character. The backstory that we associate with the character comes later. Continue reading

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Comic Book Friday Audiobook Review: Spider-Man: Forever Young

Spider-Man: Forever YoungAs a re-imagining of the “Table of Time” saga from multiple issues of The Amazing Spider-Man, Spider-Man: Forever Young is a bit of a disappointment.

The strongest parts of the story are borrowed directly from a couple of issues in the Stan Lee/John Romita days of ASM. Filled to the brim with angst for Peter Parker, multiple villains for our favorite web-slinger to contend with and a McGuffin to drive the story (in this case, an ancient tablet that contains the formula for a fountain of youth serum), the first half of the story is entertaining, riveting and chock full of classic Spidey goodness. Continue reading

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