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Comic Book Friday: Hawkeye, Volume 1: My Life As A Weapon

Hawkeye, Volume 1: My Life as a WeaponMy first thought when I heard Marvel was producing a new series centering on Hawkeye was that it was a marketing thing to cash in on the heroes’ new-found popularity thanks to the cinematic universe.

But then I heard the buzz that there might be more to this than meets the eye. Add in that the new series is written by Matt Fraction, author of the brilliantly subversive Sex Criminals comic books and the series had my interest.

So when my local library got in the first collected edition of the new Hawkeye, I picked it up. 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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Comic Book Friday: Afterlife with Archie, Volume 1: Escape from Riverdale

Afterlife with Archie, Vol. 1: Escape from Riverdale

When Jughead’s old pal Hot Dog is hit by a car, the distraught teen takes him to Sabrina and her family to bring him back to life. While her aunts refuse, Sabrina is moved by Jughead’s plight and taps into some dark magic to bring Hot Dog back to the land of the living.

Apparently all the copies of Pet Semetary were checked out before Jughead decided to this. Because while Hot Dog does come back, sometimes dead is better. Before you know it, Hog Dog has unleashed a wave of zombie terror in Riverdale — and wouldn’t you know it, on the night of the big dance!

Afterlife with Archie is a hybrid of the squeaky clean stories of Archie, Jughead and company and the gritty, over the top horror of The Walking Dead. Reading that sentence, you might think these are two things that won’t go well together. But instead of being jarring, the two pieces fit well together, giving us a band of survivors that we know and can root for all while watching their world go to hell in a hand basket as several familiar faces become zombies and begin attacking.

And yet for all the humans who did in this collection (and there are a few), it’s interesting that the death that readers may feel the most is Archie’s beloved old dog pal. Heading home to check on his parents, Archie comes across the zombie Hot Dog and looks doomed, only to see his old pal step in to save his life one last time. The use of thought balloons to narrate Archie’s pal’s internal monologue and thoughts about saving his beloved master are moving at first, turning tragic as the zombie virus consumes him and he turns on Archie.

I won’t lie and say I wasn’t more than a bit moved by this moment and the emotions that this comic taps into. I also won’t lie and say I caught every nuance of the storyline because I’m not necessarily familiar with every character and cliche from the world of Archie comics on display here.

But none of that matters because this collection of five issues works well as a homage to both the tropes of Archie and horror stories.

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Comic Book Friday: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 3: Spider-Verse

Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 3: Spider-Verse

I’ve read a lot good Spider-Man comics over the years and I’ve read a lot of terrible Spider-Man comics over the years.

Dan Slott’s “Spider-Verse” has to be among the worst of the worst — and yes, I’ve read the entire, completely reviled clone saga from the mid-90’s.

So, every iteration of Spider-Man that has ever been is brought together for this epic, cross-over saga. And while it might seem like fun to see the 60’s animated Spidey share the page with the new animated Spidey, these fun moments are few and far between in this book. In between, we get a lot of convoluted moments with various iterations of our favorite web-head spouting off meta-physical malarkey. From what I could gather, every Spider-Man in every universe has been targeted by Morlun’s family to….ummmm, well, I’m not really quite sure why, except to feed on them and to create a reason for this crossover. Continue reading

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Comic Book Friday: Batman ’66, Volume 3

Batman '66, Vol. 3

In an odd bit of timing, I started reading this latest collection of the Batman ’66 comics on the same day that the news broke of Yvonne DeCarlo’s passing. This turned out to be bittersweet because the first story features Batgirl and the Dynamic Duo battling the forces of evil around Gotham City.

As I said for the first two installments, this comic book series is intended as pure, unmitigated fun and a great homage to the classic TV series. The comics can do things that the TV show budget didn’t or couldn’t but it never forgets what made the TV series work so well. One story that’s especially fun finds Wayne Manor robbed and the Shakespeare bust removed, effectively cutting off our heroes from the Batcave. Forced to resort to older versions of the costumes, we get to see Batman and Robin in the costumes from the movie serials that preceded this one. The story is a lot of fun and stays just long enough so that it doesn’t wear out its welcome.

Also included is a story that finds Batman invented a robot that will be on duty 24-hours a day and fight crime. The scenes of Bruce and Dick actually getting to fishing are nicely done as is the reasoning for why the Bat-bot can’t stay on duty all the time.

This collection continues the fun of the series and was just delightful. It’s not heavy Batman stories — but they don’t need to be. If you want something fun and entertaining, give this series a try.

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Comic Book Friday: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 Volume I and II

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 Volume 2: I Wish

I’ll admit I was initially enthusiastic about the idea of continuing Buffy the Vampire Slayer in comics, especially since Joss Whedon was going to be involved in the project. (And more than just cashing the checks, I assumed).

Season eight was good, season nine wandered a bit too much and I was at a bit of a crossroads on whether or not I felt like I wanted or needed to read season ten. But my local library got in the first two collected editions of season ten, so I decided to give it a try.

And, for the most part, it’s a lot more enjoyable than season nine was — at least so far. With magic restored to the world — via a new magical system — the Scooby gang is contending with trying to be grown ups all while learning the new rules of the game. Seems there’s a big book that you can write the rules into and they become reality. Buffy takes it on herself to guard this book and I have a feeling that the book will come to play a big role in the season arc that will eventually unfold in the comics.

Meanwhile, there are consequences to restoring the magic. Dawn has been reset to a certain point before she and Xander were a couple. And while she loves him, she doesn’t love him in that way, leading to all kinds of awkwardness and angst. And yet, as with much of the awkwardness and angst of the Buffy-verse, it feels earned and authentic. In fact, it almost feels like something Joss himself would have dreamed up as a way to keep our couple apart but give us hope they’ll get back together soon.

Also on tap are a return to Sunnydale and Andrew trying to resurrect a certain dead character that I won’t give away. Nicholas Brendan even steps in to co-write an issue that has Spike and Xander falling under the spell of a couple of sirens. I’d almost say this is my favorite installment from the first dozen or so issues of season ten, if only because it pulls away from the heavy arc that the other issues are carrying (even a standalone with Harmony and Clem making a guest appearance gets caught up in arc stuff in its final few pages, including one very interesting reveal).

Overall, I like season ten a bit more than I thought I would. Reading this collection, I still yearn to go back and dust off my DVDs and maybe revisit Sunnydale again.

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Comic Book Friday: Amazing Spider-Man, Volume 1.1: Learning to Crawl

Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 1.1: Learning to Crawl

As part of the last Spider-Man reboot, writer Dan Slott takes us back to the early days of Peter Parker’s career as the web slinger and offers us this series that takes place in between the fables stories by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

Seems that our favorite web-slinger had an early fan — and it wasn’t just Flash Thompson. It’s a fellow science-geek who doesn’t have powers like Peter does but still wants some of the spotlight — or at least to have Spider-Man notice him. To this end, he becomes a villain of sorts called Clash who uses sounds and sonics as his weapons.

There are a few nice moments in this one. Things like Peter having to go to the school counselor to work through his anger and guilt issues (or the perceived ones). The moments of personal exploration of Peter Parker in the early days of his being Spider-Man are well done. It’s just too a shame the rest of the story doesn’t live up to these flashes of fun.

I can see what Slott is trying to do here with Clash and setting up a parallel storyline to what Peter is going through. But a lot of this material falls a bit flat and it begins to lose its impact by the time we reach the end of the story. The title of this storyline is “Learning to Crawl” and, at times, it feels like that is exactly what the story is doing — crawling.

Maybe I’m just not the right audience for Slott. Or maybe my nostalgia for my days of regularly reading Spidey are clouding my judgment.

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