Sunday, January 14, 2018

Atlas & Axis #1

   Here's another wonderful import from Titan Comics - Pau's Atlas & Axis, which gives us a medieval world populated by intelligent animals - but there's no silly business going on here.

   Created, written and drawn by Pau, it centers around two friends in the world of Pangea. They return home after a search for a rare document and find disaster waiting.

   Savage raiders from the North (the Vikings) have attacked their village and stolen Atlas's sister.

   Atlas and Axis are both dogs, by the way. Their world is filled with intelligent animals. They still retain some of their natural habits (and most of the humor derives from that), but this isn't a funny-animal story.

    There are grim moments, and even love and sex (sorta) are part of the tale. So this isn't really a tale for young ones.

   I enjoyed it! This is just the beginning of the story, but with striking art and a quest with lots of twists and turns along the way, I'm anxious to see where it goes from here.

Grade: A-


Saturday, January 13, 2018

X-Men Gold Annual #1

   As a fan of the original Excalibur comic book (featuring classic Chris Claremont / Alan Davis adventures set in Great Britain), I had to break my "avoid modern-day annuals" rule and pick up this X-Men Gold Annual, which features a reunion of the team to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first issue.

   And guess what? It's... ok.

   Not great. Just... ok.

   It features a happy announcement - Brian (Captain Britain) Braddock and his wife Meggan have had a baby! They invite their former teammates to see the new addition to the family, so traveling to their old haunts are Kitty Pryde, Nightcrawler and Rachel Summers Grey, the former Phoenix who's now going by the name Prestige. (Really? That's, uh, not a great hero name, is it?)

   Anyway, they have a nice reunion, discover the baby is surprisingly exceptional, and run into an old enemy who's out for revenge (although on the wrong former Phoenix).

   It manages to channel the somewhat offbeat feel of those original Excalibur stories, though that's about the best I can say about it. The art by Alitha E. Martinez and Craig Yeung is quite good.

   The issue also features a nice (if improbable) back-up story featuring Storm that manages to be sweet and touching without being cloying.

   So, not a bad annual - but not as special as it should be. But it is nice to see Excalibur back in action.

Grade: B-


Friday, January 12, 2018

Mister Miracle #6 (of 12)

   You'd be hard pressed to find a stranger comic than this version of  Mister Miracle.

   It's a really odd but clever mix of superheroics, Jack Kirby's unique cosmic carnage, and real-world concerns.

   Written by Tom King and drawn by Mitch Gerads, the issue follows Scott Free and his wife, Big Barda, as they invade New Genesis, facing assorted death traps and dealing harshly with those who oppose them.

   But while the battle for life-and-death is going on, the two are carrying on an amazingly mundane discussion, as though they're sitting at home, not fighting for their lives.

    It's an odd juxtaposition, and as with previous issues, leaves the reader wondering: just what is going on?

   The good news is: you'll get a glimpse of the answer. Maybe.

   This isn't a comic for everyone - it's sometimes brutal and often mysterious. You'll spend time scratching your head.

   But the visuals are wonderful and the glimpses of the story running below the surface are tantalizing.

   It's not for everyone - but it's loaded with promise.

Grade: A-


Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Avengers #675

   Let's face it - you can have too much of a good thing.

   For example, there are too many Avengers titles, including Uncanny Avengers, U.S. Avengers, Occupy Avengers and (of course) The Avengers.

   In "Chuck's Perfect World of Comics," there is a single monthly Avengers title with a top creative team guiding the adventures of that group. that formula worked for decades and ensured quality over quantity.

   But in the real world, Marvel needs to generate as much money as possible.

   Now there's a new series running under The Avengers title - a weekly event titled "No Surrender." It promises to change the team forever. (By trimming it down to a manageable size, we can only hope.)

   The series wastes no time surging out of the blocks, as a mysterious celestial event causes massive natural disasters around the Earth - and every member of all those Avengers teams are called into action.

   The story is by Mark Waid, Al Ewing and Jim Zub, and the art is by Pepe Larraz. The art is very impressive, with powerful vistas of disasters and heroics.

   The story is a bit heavy on the mystery side - we don't know what's caused the disaster or what causes the mysterious condition that strikes down some of the heroes - and we're not sure what's going on with that last page.

   But it's a very entertaining mystery (the best kind!), and I'm in for the long haul.

Grade: A-


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

New Comics Day

     Here's what I picked up at the comics shop today:

- ARCHIE #27 - Archie at the crossroads!

- AVENGERS #675 - Part one of "No Surrender!"

- DAREDEVIL #597 - Dealing with Mayor Fisk!

- MIGHTY CRUSADERS #2 - New blood!

- MISTER MIRACLE #6 (OF 12) - The end of the first story arc, as the war takes a bloody turn!

- PHOENIX RESURRECTION RETURN JEAN GREY #3 (OF 5) - An unwelcome light in the darkness?

- X-MEN GOLD ANNUAL #1 - An Excalibur reunion!

     And I received these review copies:

- ATLAS AND AXIS #1 (OF 4) - Home from the war - but where are their families?

- BLOODSHOT SALVATION #5 - What's happening to baby Jessie?

- DOCTOR WHO 11TH YEAR THREE #13 - A fiery conclusion!

- FIGHTING AMERICAN #4 - Fight for the future!

- LOLA XOXO VOL 2 #6 - The conclusion!

- LOST FLEET CORSAIR #5 - The adaption of the science fiction novel continues!

- MILLENNIUM GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNETS NEST #2 - Lisbeth is in critical condition and wanted for murder!

- NINJAK VS VALIANT UNIVERSE #1 (OF 4) - The fight of the century!

- NORMANDY GOLD #5 - Into the world of prostitution.

SHRUGGED VOL 2 #5 (OF 6) - The long-awaited return!

     And that's it!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Secret Weapons #0

   Secret Weapons was a mini-series that delivered a strong story about some young psiots (superhumans) who had unusual powers - but managed to team up and defeat a deadly opponent.

   Valiant is following up that with a series of "prequel" stories, with the origins (more or less) of the characters involved.

   This issue focuses on Nikki, a lovely teenager who is lured to Harada's institute, leaving behind her typical teenager upbringing - but what follows is anything but typical.

   Her odd powers seem minor on the face of it - but they help her save her own life, and make a difference in the lives of others.

   Writer Eric Heisserer has crafted a sharp, real-life story (well, mostly) about a not-so-typical teenager and her extraordinary life.

   The art by Adam Pollina with color art by David Baron is wonderful - crafting a life story with skill and lovely depictions of characters and environments.

   This is a striking "done in one" story that tells a terrific story on its own - but it does work better if you've read the original series.

Grade: A


Monday, January 8, 2018

Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter #4

   This issue wraps up the first story arc for Captain Kronos, and it's been a fun ride.

   The story revolves around his battle against a small army of vampires, with only the help of his fellow Vampire Hunters, the beautiful and deadly Carla and the cunning Grost.

   It brings the Captain face-to-face with the monstrous Slake, who commands vampires that show (almost) no typical weaknesses (sunlight, crosses, etc).

   But what seems like a straightforward story has a few surprises to share, and lots of action and adventure along the way.

   With a terrific script by Dan Abnett and powerful, moody artwork by Tom Mandrake (skillfully channelling Gene Colan here), this series has been a blast to read.

   It manages to channel the best elements of comics horror in the '70s and '80s into an edge-of-your-seat adventure.

   Highly recommended!

Grade: A