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Oct 252014
 
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Welcome to another week of Four-Color Bullet, the only comic book review column that kicks butt and doesn’t need the Super-Soldier Serum to do it. As you may have noticed, it’s Saturday, and the best comic book review column in the Multiverse will be coming to you on Saturday instead of Thursday for the next four weeks. So bear with me, and we’ll back to our regularly scheduled day soon. The reason for the move is classified, but stay tuned to Krypton Radio for hints as to my whereabouts.

And now  … COMICS!

On the DC comics side of the fence, catastrophe strikes Arkham Asylum, and the inmates have to be housed somewhere else, plunging Batman into an eerie murder mystery, in the first issue of Arkham Manor; Slade Wilson a.k.a. Deathstroke kicks off his new solo book by being hunted by someone who may have the skills to actually bring him down, in Deathstroke #1; and after an amnesia-stricken Power Girl crashes into Coney Island from space, it’s Harley Quinn to the rescue, and she’s only too happy to remind PG that they are best friends, and a crime-fighting team, in Harley Quinn #11.

From Marvel this week, the hate hits the fan as Axis continues with its third issue; X-23 reflects on the life and death of the man who gave her purpose, in Wolverine: The Logan Legacy #2; and Kamala Khan a.k.a. the new Ms. Marvel helps Spider-Man take on a powerful and angry Kree warrior, and a backup story features Mayday Parker in a fight unlike anything she’s ever been in before, as Spider-Verse inches closer, in Amazing Spider-Man #8.

From IDW, Mulder and Scully’s investigation of an abortion clinic bombing leads them to a teenage girl who claims to talk to God, but whose actions are far from heavenly, in Part Two of Immaculate, in The X-Files Season 10 #17; and Cow and Chicken join the multi-dimensional cartoon fracas known as the Super Secret Crisis War, in Cartoon Network: Super Secret Crisis War!: Cow and Chicken #1.

 

The most famous enemies of the paranormal have just been killed on live television. Their kids are next.

Writer: Jacob Semahn Artist: Jorge Corona Colorist: Gabriel Cassata IMAGE

Writer: Jacob Semahn
Artist: Jorge Corona
Colorist: Gabriel Cassata
IMAGE

So let’s say that your parents are famous hunters of the paranormal, in a world where the paranormal is known and feared. And let’s say that you’re watching your famous parents live on television as they’re working on a case. Then, let’s just say that you watch your parents get killed on live TV by the beasties they’re hunting. And then the beasties come for you. That’s the premise behind Image’s new horror comic, The Goners. Zoe and Josiah Latimer are watching their famous parents in action when they’re killed on live television. Now, with the most powerful paranormal hunters out of the way, the things that go bump in the night are targeting their children.

This first issue by Jacob Semahn and Jorge Corona is all about mystery, intrigue, and thrills as we see the kids try to survive, and we the readers are wondering what the heck just happened. Was it in inside job? Did someone set the Latimers up? There are a lot of questions and few answers by the time we get to the end of the issue, leaving us waiting for next month.

Artist Jorge Corona and his colorist comrade Gabriel Cassata provide some great visuals, and is probably the best part about the book. It’s got a Saturday morning vibe that seems to work well in this story of kids, creepy creatures, and spellslinging/powers.

Not much bad to say, except the book moves quickly, and you have a brief instant to get emotionally attached to the characters before all heck breaks loose.

Image just keeps churning out hits, and this one I’ll keep checking on. It’s obvious that Semahn has a story to tell about the end of the Latimer family and what happens next in the vacuum, and he wants to tell it. This is definitely one to watch.

 

Something strange in the neighborhood. Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters! And the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Writers: Erik Burnham and Tom Waltz Artists: Charles Paul Wilson III, Cory Smith, and Dan Schoening. Colors: Luis Antonio Delgado and Ronda Patterson IDW

Writers: Erik Burnham and Tom Waltz
Artists: Charles Paul Wilson III, Cory Smith, and Dan Schoening.
Colors: Luis Antonio Delgado and Ronda Patterson
IDW

Finally. Two of the most popular franchises of the ’80s are teaming up. Erik Burnham of Ghostbusters (which sadly ended its series, a fact I’m still lamenting) and Tom Waltz of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are collaborating to bring readers the team-up of the millennium. Well … at least for me. But this first issue was still really good and worth the wait. As most team-ups tend to be, this isn’t a day-in-the-life story. Both sides are just doing something on a Saturday morning, then, team-up occurs. It feels more like a TMNT story because what’s going on in the current series has a lot to do with what happens here, but not so much that you have to be a reader of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to get it. It’s very easy and accessible for new readers, thanks to a well-done introduction that gives you all the info you need.

It also happens to be drawn by three different art teams: something I usually can’t stand. But as a friend of mine and I were discussing earlier, it works well in this case because each creative team deals with a different time, dimension, etc. Charles Paul Wilson III handles the first five pages, which is our  dark and spooky intro that takes place in ancient Japan; Cory Smith and Ronda Patterson take the next four, which takes place in the New York of the Turtles; and finally, Dan Schoening and Luis Antonio Delgado, who impressed me every month with their work on the Ghostbusters ongoing, handle the last 10 pages, after the Turtles end up in the Ghostbusters’ New York and do some ghostbusting of a different sort.

Everybody gets time in this issue, from Venkman and crew on the job, to Leo and the gang doing their thing, until the end when the awesome happens.

Burnham and Waltz have done amazing jobs on their respective titles, and to see them come together for the first time for this crossover is nothing short of exciting. I had very high expectations coming into it, and I was not disappointed. From the outside looking in, it’s easy to see where this could be nothing more than a chance to make money with flashing dollar signs in the eyes of all concerned. But once you read it, or if you’re reading (or have read, in the case of Ghostbusters) either of the titles, you’re going to see how much the writers and artists care about the characters they’re writing about. While it’s very satisfying if you’ve been following along with either series, new fans will be able to read with minimal being-in-the-dark. This was my pick of the week. Seriously. You’re going to love it.

And that wraps Four-Color Bullet for this week. Don’t forget to find it on Saturdays for the next three weeks, then we’re back on Thursday. Thanks for checking in!

It’s a great time to be a comics fan. Really. It is. Did you see that Avengers 2: Age of Ultron trailer? See? It is.

See ya next Saturday!

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Oct 202014
 
ultimateLairsFeatureImage

Okay, you’ve been bitten by that spider, rocketed to Earth as an infant from a dying planet, built your iron suit powered by a fusion reactor embedded in your chest, or decided to spent your billions getting all dark and gothy and talking like you have throat cancer. Now what? You’re going to need a place to live. There are any number of different superhero lairs to choose from. One of them will surely suit your personal temperament and your superhero persona.

You can go humble or big, public or secret, high-tech or ancient pantheon. The choice is yours. What kind of lair would you choose? Can’t make up your mind? This handy visual guide, The Ultimate List of Superhero Lairs, may help you make that all-important decision. Note the figures of the famous heroes in the various lairs showing appropriateness and likelihood of use in each case. We’re sure you’ll find the secret lair of your dreams!

the-ultimate-list-of-superhero-lairs

And before you ask, no, we weren’t paid to run this article; we did this voluntarily. We just thought it was an insane idea for a company that makes window dressings to go all superhero on us like this. It’s an unlikely idea, and we salute the creative thinking of Terrys Blinds of the U.K. and thank them for going to the trouble to add to the universe of cool geeky things for the rest of us to enjoy.

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Oct 092014
 
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fourColorBullet1

Welcome to another Four-Color Bullet. I am proud to say that we are the only comic-book review column not responsible for the destruction of an entire universe. So let’s talk about comics.

From Marvel, it’s time for yet another company-wide event as the Avengers and the X-Men team up again, this time to take down the Red Skull, armed with Xavier’s brain, in Axis #1;  Ms. Marvel teams up with the Amazing Spider-Man, and the Spider-Verse event draws near, in The Amazing Spider-Man #7; and it’s Halloween in Brooklyn, and the bad guys are dressing up as good guys and Hawkeye and Deadpool team up to stop the mess, in Hawkeye and Deadpool #1.

From DC this week,  it’s the beginning of the end of Earth 2 in Earth 2: World’s End #1; Klarion the Witchboy is bored and Earth is his new playground, in Klarion #1; and a new era of Batgirl begins, in Batgirl #35.

And Jack Burton’s quest to save Wang Chi may be over, but Lo Pan still has his eyes on Miao Yin, in Big Trouble in Little China #5 by BOOM! Studios.

 

Joshua Williamson: Writer Andrei Bressan: Artist IMAGE COMICS

Joshua Williamson: Writer
Andrei Bressan: Artist
IMAGE COMICS

Only one comic this week made it this far, but it’s a doozy. Joshua Williamson has another smash hit on his hands with Birthright. After Ghosted, and Nailbiter, how much more can this guy top himself? It seems like everything Image has put out lately is becoming a favorite, but that’s just the quality of Image Comics.

Birthright #1 starts out as a missing-child story. Williamson brilliantly depicts the emotional turmoil of a family losing their child. Desperate fathers, grieving mothers, and the destruction of a family. We see some time pass, and how this family copes with the loss of a child. And then the crazy comes. Honestly, I think the less you know about this comic, the better. Just when you think you know where the story is taking you, it throws a sack over your head, spins you around 40 times, then pushes you down a hill. Now, twists happen all the time in comics, and they’re getting so frequent that comics readers are getting kind of cynical. This month’s issue of DC’s Batman throws a big twist at you.

But Williamson pulls this one off smashingly. And even if the twist doesn’t impress you, that last page will have you screaming and looking for the rest of the comic, and you’re going to get angry when you realize you have to wait until next month. As if this book couldn’t get better, you’re hit with the amazing art of Andrei Bressan. Artists have the tough job, especially with a first issue, of establishing the looks of the characters when you first meet them. Bressan does it like a pro.

I have nothing negative to say about this book. Nothing. It’s a fun first issue that throws you a curve and has you gasping for the next issue. Loved it. Go get it. And in 10 years, you can hold up your first issue proudly.

And this wraps a very short Four-Color Bullet. Always feel free to email or comment on anything. Anything at all.

It’s a great time to be a comics fan. See you next Thursday!

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Sep 242014
 
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by Michael Brown, staff writer

4046583-02Spider-Man has fought many foes in his storied career, but never one so baffling as being banned from a library.

After his science-fiction novel-for-television known as Babylon 5 had ended, J. Michael Straczynski had decided to give comics a go. He started Joe’s Comics, an imprint of Top Cow, that produced noteworthy titles like Midnight Nation, written by Straczynski, and his epic superhero series, Rising Stars.  Marvel Comics took notice and recruited him, signing him to an exclusive contract beginning with a run on Amazing Spider-Man that lasted from 2001 to 2007, with the legendary John Romita, Jr as artist.

Straczynski took the Spider-Man mythos into an entirely new direction by suggesting the spider that bit Peter sought him out, and was actually Peter’s totem. Straczynski would craft some memorable tales during his ASM tenure, making Peter an inner-city high school teacher, and revealing in an unpopular retcon, that, before she died, Gwen Stacy had an affair with Norman “The Green Goblin” Osborn and had his twin children. But Straczynski also penned a heartbreaking love letter to fans after the 9/11 attacks. Sporting an all-black cover, Amazing Spider-Man #36 dealt with the attacks through the eyes of Marvel’s heroes and villains, and was narrated by Spidey.

Issue #36 was later collected, along with issues 37-39, into a trade paperback titled Revelations. This collection of Straczynski’s run included, in addition to the 9/11 issue, a “silent issue” in which there was no dialogue, Peter revealing his identity to Aunt May, and a touching story in which Peter tries to win back Mary Jane, who is separated from him.

In 2009, a parent in Millard, Nebraska challenged its elementary school library on its inclusion of Amazing Spider-Man: Revelations on its shelves after her six-year-old son checked it out and brought it home.

“My son looked at this and goes, ‘Ohhhh!’,” said Physha Svendsen.

Svendsen went straight to her ABC News affiliate, claiming the book is not age-appropriate for Norris Elementary students and wants it removed from the library, citing “sexual undertones.” Svendsen said that some of the illustrations included “a woman wearing a bikini and a short skirt.”  The offending pictures have been presented in this article for your judgment.

Donna Helvering, head librarian for the Millard School District, said the library has a thorough selection process that the book had passed, and that it was in demand by other students. Beyond the selection process, the library also has a strong review policy. According to the school’s policy, parents can file complaints and the school is required to form a committee to evaluate the complaint and make a consensus determination to retain or ban the book within 30 days. This measure was not strong enough for Svendsen who told the media she plans, “to hold on to the book that her son brought home while the review process takes place.” Svendsen’s decision to keep the book goes against library policy and could be construed as stealing.

This reporter, however, acting on a hunch, found Norris Elementary’s website and discovered that the school library keeps an online catalog of its books. A search yesterday. September 23, 2014, showed that the library still has a copy of Amazing Spider-Man: Revelations, although its status is listed as “out for repairs.”

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Sep 182014
 
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Four-Color Bullet

It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for Four-Color Bullet, the only comic book review column that fans are waiting to show up in the New 52. Speaking of showing up … Spoiler! Is! Back! And she looks fantastic! But we’ll get to Stephanie Brown in a sec. Here are this week’s bullets.

DC Comics presents: Martian Manhunter’s plans for world domination come to fruition, in Futures End: Justice League #1; Wonder Woman loses her humanity and embraces her destiny as God of War to fight back Nemesis, in Futures End: Wonder Woman #1; Batman and Robin! Trapped in the Widow’s web! Penguin to the rescue?! It’s all in Batman ’66 #43.

From Marvel this week, Edge of Spider-Verse continues as the Superior Spider-Man takes the fight to Karn, the man leaving a trail of dead Spiders throughout the multiverse, in Superior Spider-Man #33; Havok and the remaining members of the Avengers Unity Squad are brought low by Red Skull and his S-Men, in Uncanny Avengers #24; and Miles Morales, the Ultimate Spider-Man, joins the X-Men, in All-New X-Men #32.

In the Valiant Universe, Quantum and Woody, and Archer and Armstrong continue their insane, and ill-conceived team up to find the Hobo King, in The Delinquents #2; Following Livewire’s sacrifice, Unity rallies. And they have Armor Hunters in their sights. Last hope. Last stand. Unity #11

And from IDW, an abortion clinic bombing leads Mulder and Scully to investigate a right-wing extremist group led by a teenage girl who claims to hear God. But her actions are far from heavenly, in The X-Files; Season 10 #16.

 

The kids are not all right

Written by Mark Waid Penciled by Chris Samnee Colored by matthew Wilson

Written by Mark Waid
Penciled by Chris Samnee
Colored by Matthew Wilson

When we last saw Purple Man, he was being pretty darn scary in Brian Michael Bendis’ Alias. Now, he drops by San Francisco, and as usual, his terrifying, sleazy, mind-control powers are with him. Mark Waid’s work on Daredevil has been nothing short of fantastic throughout. And this tale, book-ended by some of the creepiest, unsettling events I’ve seen in some time, is no exception. In addition to that, Matt gets to meet his girlfriend’s parents, and is given a proposition that Matt may find hard to say no to. Keeping an eye on how that plays out will be interesting. This issue is light on the action, but do you see that cover? It’s exactly what you think it is, and Waid makes Purple Man, and the Purple Children, some of the scariest foes Marvel has to offer.

And the action isn’t prevalent, but that just means that we have time for some character development. Characters need to be able to emote, and express properly on the page. In this regard, Chris Samnee is top-of-the-line as usual, and shares a deserved storytelling credit with Waid. They go together like chocolate and peanut butter, and this book is the better for it.

And so, a new arc begins with a terrifying new villain for DD. How Matt handles what comes next will be worth biting my nails for a month.

 

 

 

 

Spoiler, Sweetie!

Written by Ray fawkes, Scott Snyder, and James Tynion IV Penciled by Andy Clarke

Written by Ray Fawkes, Scott Snyder, and James Tynion IV
Penciled by Andy Clarke

Along with Wally West, Stephanie Brown, a.k.a. The Spoiler, has to be the most fan-demanded character in DC’s New 52. Before the universe-spanning reboot, she was popular in the pages of the Batman books, even becoming Robin for a very brief spell before she tragically lost her life in a Gotham City gang war.

Her father, the two-bit Riddler wannabe Cluemaster, always provided some tension as Stephanie played the hero game behind her criminal father’s back. Stephanie re-appeared in the New 52 back in Batman: Eternal #3, and now makes her long-awaited debut as she takes on her criminal father as The Spoiler in this week’s issue 24.

Thankfully, we’re given a bit of a New 52 backstory in that we see her as a kid, and that acrobatics are nothing new to her or her father. What I as the reader could have used more of was a little more background on her. And storytellers Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, with wordsmith Ray Fawkes, and Tim Seeley and Kyle Higgins in as showrunners of sorts, have made New 52 Spoiler just intriguing enough to have been worth the long wait.

Artist Andy Clarke shines here, perfectly providing the tone the writers have tried to convey. And the action is smashmouth, wallop to wallop, panel to panel.

All in all, it’s good to have Stephanie back and her reboot is off to a good start.

And that is it for Four-Color Bullet this week. Email and comment if you so choose. Are you a Spoiler fan? What do you think of her return? Sound off, already!

It’s a great time to be a comics fan. See ya next week!

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Sep 112014
 

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It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for another Four-Color Bullet, the only comic-book review column not guest-starring Deadpool.

On the Marvel side of things, the Spider-Man of the 1930s returns, this time not only up against the man called Mysterio, but knee-deep in the multiverse-spanning event that will affect every known spider-powered hero in existence, in Edge of Spider-Verse #1 starring Spider-Man Noir; Captain Marvel and her cat, Chewie, must fend off an alien intruder. They will both discover that in space, no can hear you meow, in Captain Marvel #7; and in the march to Axis, Marvel’s next big event, Magneto discovers the Red Skull is hauling mutants off to re-education camps, and is in possession of Charles Xavier’s powers, in Magneto #9.

Over at the Distinguished Competition, Batman Beyond and his team must make their move on TerrifiTech, in Futures End #19; Amanda Waller’s covert war against the United States reaches the tipping point as the Suicide Squad takes the White House, in New Suicide Squad #1: Futures End; Batman and Robin are about to be turned into pasta thanks to General Gumm’s death trap, forcing the Green Hornet and Kato to bring in Gumm and the Joker on their own, in Batman ’66 Meets the Green Hornet #9. 

And from the Valiant Universe, Archer’s assassin-for-hire sister Mary-Maria takes center stage in a roller coaster ride into next month’s game-changer, in Archer and Armstrong #24

 

Written by Dan Slott Penciled by Humberto Ramos Colored by Edgar Delgado MARVEL

Written by Dan Slott
Penciled by Humberto Ramos
Colored by Edgar Delgado
MARVEL

When last we left our intrepid web-slinging hero, the now-psychotic Black Cat was about to unmask Spidey on live television while Spidey’s new ally Silk fought Electro, and good ol’ J. Jonah Jameson himself narrated the unmasking. I thought it was going to be a gimmick. That Amazing Spider-Man #6 would roll out and Peter had a mask under the mask, or something similar.

Friends, I was wrong. Spider-Man has been unmasked. Again.

The first story arc of Peter Parker’s return to life ends here, with him unmasked on live television, and he and Silk fighting off Electro and the Spidey-Scorned Black Cat. Writer Dan Slott is showing no signs of slowing down, actually keeping the action moving, moving, moving with virtually no time to rest. Black Cat is so ticked off she’s forming her own criminal empire just to take Peter down. Then we have Silk’s intense attraction for Peter, and some brewing trouble at Parker Industries. Thankfully, we’re not getting mindless slugfests every month, and Slott is developing plot threads in true Dan Slott style to keep the fifty-year-old character interesting, and fans coming back to the book. Penciler Humberto Ramos does some great work with his action scenes, keeping up with the frenetic pace of the story.

However, I am still having serious issues with Black Cat’s violent anger toward Peter. I get that when SpOck nabbed her while in Peter’s body, she lost everything. Wealth, credibility, all of it. But Peter and Felicia have history, and in my opinion it shouldn’t be that easy for Felicia to just develop a psychopathic anger toward Peter, when Peter has proven several times over, and again in a scene in this issue, that Otto was driving the body when he caused Felicia’s downfall. I’m left wondering if something’s up with her. Symbiote, mind-control, something.

Overall, I liked this issue and the feel of the series overall. There’s a lot building with Silk, Black Cat’s obsession with destroying Spidey, whether or not Peter’s unmasking comes back to haunt him, and the ramifications of the upcoming Spider-Verse event. There’s definitely going to be a lot to look forward to.

 

Written by Jeff Lemire Penciled by Jed Dougherty Colored by Gabe Eltaeb DC COMICS

Written by Jeff Lemire
Penciled by Jed Dougherty
Colored by Gabe Eltaeb
DC COMICS

I am not a fan of DC’s current need to run a line-wide event in almost all of their titles. This month, the Futures End event that puts the DCU five years in the future has gone through most of the titles as tie-ins and restarted them (sort of) as first issues. The one I picked up this week was Justice League United #1: Futures End, because for a couple of months, DC has touted the return of my much-loved Legion of Super-Heroes in the book. As I read my comics on Comixology, I pre-ordered the book, excited to the point of vibrating because the Legion was coming back. All of the solicitations said this was the return of the Legion! This comics geek was happy!

Then I read it. You know what I got? Dawnstar. Now, don’t get me wrong. Dawnstar is one of my favorite Legionnaires, and it was nice to see her in action as a member of the future Justice League, and it was nice to see she, and maybe the others, were still around after Legion Lost ended. This Legion fan was left wanting more. But it is a two-parter, so we shall see.

The Legion disappointment aside, it was a good story. I like writer Jeff Lemire, especially his work on Justice League Dark, which is probably my favorite DC title right now along with Batman. In the story, Equinox gets a telepathic call from Martian Manhunter, essentially warning her that super-powered criminals on a Mars prison complex have escaped. As this is five years in the future, Equinox rounds up what’s left of the Justice League to head to Mars and deal with the problem.

There’s some pretty good character development and world-building here, as we see what has become of the Justice League United team during the Futures End event. It’s well-paced, with snappy dialogue, and an interesting cliffhanger. What I didn’t like was the art. Jed Dougherty isn’t a bad artist, but his work with facial expressions are unusual and off-putting, and his action scenes aren’t my favorite either. I suppose the word is “static.” I’m not sure he was the right choice to pencil a Justice League title.

With all of that out of the way, I will say that there will be a big Legion/Justice League team-up in the pages of Justice League United in October.

Overall, a decent addition to the Futures End event that offered some much needed hope that the Legion of Super-Heroes will return.

And that is Four-Color Bullet for this week. Email and comments are always welcome, if you wish to sound off. Make your comics shop owner happy and clear those files out.

It’s a great time to be a comics fan. See you next week!

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