It’s THN’S LUDICROUS SPEED ROUND: New(ish) Comic Book Reviews for 1/17/24!
We read way more comics than we have time to talk about on the show so the rest of our new comic book reviews end up here. If you’re a long-time-listenerd, you probably remember our short reviews accompanied by glorious power metal. Now you can supply your own soundtrack and relive the magic as we review and rate these comics on our patented “Buy it”, “Skim it” or “Leave it” scale. Is it perfect? No. Does it make sense? Not a bit. Is it all we know and are smart enough to understand? ABSOLUTELY.
John Constantine, Hellblazer: Dead in America #1 of 8
DC Comics/Black Label
Written by Simon Spurrier
Art and cover by Aaron Campbell
Colors by Jordie Bellaire
Letters by Aditya Bidikar
32 pages for $4.99
Solict: At last, as you demanded: The celebrated creative team of Si Spurrier and Aaron Campbell have returned to Hellblazer! John Constantine has cheated death once again—but his heart’s not beating, his body is decaying, and he, his friend Nat, and his son Noah are on the run in America, wanted for murder. Naturally, it’s all John’s fault—it always is. But as it turns out, Dream himself needs John’s help. Something terrible has taken root in America, and it’s using the sand from Dream’s pouch to impose its will. If John can put a stop to it, he might be able to parlay that favor into a chance to save all their lives—but he’s going to need help from someone he hasn’t spoken to in years. Someone he wasn’t always…all that kind to. Someone…or some…Thing? Si Spurrier and Aaron Campbell’s first run on Hellblazer was the best-reviewed comic of 2020, reintroducing the character to a new generation, and their second act, told in extra-length 28-page issues, is ambitious and unmissable!
Review: Hellblazer fans will be thrilled to have this creative team back. And I say “Hellblazer” fans because John Constantine went thru a few iterations before his Black Label series with Spurrier and Campbell driving. It’s wonderful to have the foul-mouthed, smoking, magic bastard back and you can tell Spurrier loves this character. Otherwise he wouldn’t be torturing John this much. Of course John deserves it and 99% of his latest predicament is his fault, but even if you didn’t read the previous Hellblazer mini, the creators do a wonderful job resetting the situation in the first-page recap. Campbell and colorist Jordie Bellaire are having some fun with colors and textures that work perfectly for this issue’s guest star. No spoilers but it’s not the Swamp Thing they’re hinting at in the solicit. Campbell’s linework moves from sharp and angular to loose and ghostly with the greatest of ease as he brings life to Spurrier’s paranormal America. The comic looks great even as John looks a little worse for the wear as the story moves forward and his body begins to decay. This is probably the only Sandman Universe comic I’m excited to read currently.
Rating: BUY IT
James Bond 007 #1
Written by Garth Ennis
Art by Rapha Lobosco
Colors by Jorge Sutil
Letters by Rob Steen
Cover by Dave Johnson
32 pages for $3.99
Solict: Codename: STALVODA. Translation (from Russian): STEEL WATER. A relic of the Cold War, the deadly compound Stalvoda has a long-buried connection with MI6. So when it mysteriously reappears in disturbing circumstances, the agency naturally assigns its best operative to get to the bottom of things – 007 himself, James Bond. But Bond isn’t the only one to have carried the double-0 rank, and with it MI6’s secrets. Former agent Archibald Tyron is another, and he’s also carrying a grudge – one that’s aimed squarely at the heart of His Majesty’s Secret Service! Legendary comics author GARTH ENNIS (The Boys, Preacher, Battlefields, The Punisher) joins artist RAPHA LOBOSCO (James Bond: Black Box) and cover artist DAVE JOHNSON (100 Bullets, Superman: Red Son, Deadpool) to bring you Part One of “Your Cold, Cold Heart” – marking the 10-year anniversary of James Bond comics being published at Dynamite Entertainment!
Review: Fantastic opening that Ennis made sure was timed so you could picture exactly where the Bond theme would kick in. Ennis may be following the Bond formula: bad-ass opening, meetup with M, get a mission, meet with Q to stock up on weapons, etc. But after that, his Bond is a stone-faced killer. The setup is great, although it seems like the solicit is giving away a plot point we don’t get to in this first issue. Lobosco’s great art style is understated and not flashy, and it gives this Bond story a timeless feel even though it takes place in the modern day. He even gets gory with some of the violence to further demonstrate how cold Bond can be when carrying out his mission. I’ve really enjoyed the last two Dynamite Bond titles so I still would have picked up this issue even if Ennis wasn’t writing. The fact that he IS writing certainly doesn’t hurt though, and this looks to be another must-read for any Bond fan.
Rating: BUY IT
Avengers Twilight #1
Written by Chip Zdarsky
Art by Daniel Acuna
Letters by VC’s Corey Pettit
Cover by Alex Ross and Daniel Acuna
48 pages for $5.99
Solict: In a gleaming new world of prosperity, Captain America is no more. But Steve Rogers still exists, floating through an America where freedom is an illusion, where THE AVENGERS are strangers and his friends are long dead. But is the Dream? How do you assemble Avengers in a world that doesn’t want them? PLUS: A behind-the-scenes look at the making of this issue!
Review: At first, Chip Zdarsky’s Old Man Avengers story seems like it’s going to be his take on Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns but with Captain America making one more run at Avenging. As the story unfolds, it feels a little closer to Mark Waid’s Kingdom Come, but not in the sense that Chip is ripping off either story. The first issue sets up the state of the world after the heroes took the political fallout for H-Day, an event where a major city was destroyed (that’s the Kingdom Come vibe I mentioned). It’s a good enough setup and I trust Zdarsky to not let his story get too derivative. Daniel Acuna is doing career-defining art and color work here that makes this story hum with electricity. The first couple of pages take place in an aging Steve Rogers’s apartment and his style and color palette are muted to make it seem like a scene from the 80s or 90s. But when Steve steps out into the NY streets the art explodes with color and digital effects. It’s overwhelming at first but serves to show how life and modern times have passed him and his aging super-buddies by. While some of the story’s premise seemed a little forced, I trust Zdarsky to flesh out the plot and the H-Day fallout that lead to Twilight. But the real star here is Daniel Acuna.
Rating: BUY IT
Cobra Commander #1
Written by Joshua Williamson
Pencils by Andrea Milano
Colors by Annalisa Leone
Letters by Rus Wooton
40 pages for $4.99
Solicit: Mini-Series Premiere. The Rise of Cobra begins here. In a world where the Cobra organization hasn’t formed, one man’s sinister plans to utilize the mysterious alien substance known as Energon sends shockwaves across the globe. Who is Cobra Commander? Where does he come from? And what horrors is he planning to unleash that will rock the world-and maybe the universe-to its core? Red-Hot writer Joshua Williamson (Superman, Duke) and artist Andrea Milana (Impact Winter: Rook) kick off the second of four action-packed miniseries that will introduce the best and worst humanity has to offer in the Energon Universe.
Review: I’ve been thinking about this damn comic for over two weeks now and I still can’t really decide how I feel about it. It starts out on a high note, with the the brutal, sub-arctic carjacking scene you may have seen previewed in recent Image Comics. But then Joshua Williamson takes a HARD turn into territory I was NOT expecting. At this point I think we just have to spoil it… Cobra-La is back in a BIG way. Williamson is doubling down on one of the most controversial (to put it lightly) aspects of the GI Joe mythos and I just don’t know how to feel about it. As far as the execution of the comic itself goes, it’s all completely fine and it ties into the Energy Universe in a fun way. The art and colors by Milana and Leone are excellent. But will I stay invested in a well-told story about a concept I kind of hate? Time will tell… Cobra Commander #1 gets a strong SKIM IT.
Rating: STRONG SKIM IT
Written by Fabian Nicieza
Pencils by Scot Eaton
Inks by Cam Smith with Victor Nava
Colors by Java Tartaglia
Letters by VC’s Joe Sabino
32 pages for $4.99
Solicit: THE FUTURE MUST NOT COME TO PASS! All the signs are here: The Neocracy is coming – and with it comes not only the end of mutantkind, but all of the humankind as well! As if rescuing Young Nate from the ongoing threat of Orchis weren’t enough, can Cable root out this growing threat and decimate it before the Neocracy has a chance to take hold. But is he already too late to change the future? Don’t miss out on Fabian Nicieza and Scot Eaton’s explosive first issue of CABLE!
Review: The man that knows Cable better than anyone other than maybe Rob Liefeld is back in charge his adventures, but he starts this issue in mid-story. There’s a lot of exposition telling us how Young Nate got kidnapped and what Orchis was doing to him, but no effort is made to let the reader know if that stuff happened off-panel or in a previous story. Fortunately, it’s easy enough to get up to speed and Nicieza does a good job giving the two Nate’s JUST enough individuality to set them apart while still feeling like the same man. Scot Eaton’s art is perfectly serviceable. He’s not the most exciting or flashy superhero artist working today, but he’s got a classic style that works well for this kind of story. Cable #1 doesn’t break any new ground beyond the novelty of the Nate & Nate team-up, but maybe it doesn’t have to. This is where Cable shines, no matter how many of him there are – striking preemptively against threats to the future without asking for permission or forgiveness – and if there’s anyone that knows his way around that type of story it’s Fabian Nicieza.
Rating: STRONG SKIM IT
Written by Celeste Bronfman
Art by Joey Vasquez with Eric Gapstur
Colors by Edgar Delgado with Erick Arciniega
Letters by VC’s Ariana Maher
40 pages for $4.99
Solicit: ALWAYS BET ON RED!
• A GANG WAR TIE-IN!
• Mary Jane Watson, A.K.A. JACKPOT, gets her first solo super story since her debut in ASM #31!• New York City is in chaos as the super-powered criminal gangs are at war, and it’s all hands on deck!
• It’s a baptism by fire, but, come on, this is Mary Jane. What CAN’T she handle?!
Review: *SIGH*… Jackpot. Yeah, everything about the old Jackpot sucked, but I’m not one to automatically write off this version of the character. Obviously I love Mary Jane, and I think her power set is really interesting. But this comic is just kind of underwhelming. It’s tied up in the current Gang War mess which is Strike One. I’m also not a huge fan of Joey Vasquez. Their art isn’t bad per se, it just isn’t my cup of tea. Bronfman’s dialogue is pretty rough as well, but to her credit, her story did deliver some great moments. I enjoy MJ’s relationship with Paul, which gets a bit of the focus, and it was fun seeing her interact with other heroes. Friend of the show Eric Gapstur makes his big Marvel debut here and his pages are great, so hopefully this leads to more work for him in the future. Jackpot #1 is up and down in terms of quality, but it’s got its charms. I just not sure I’ll be lining up for her next adventure in the upcoming Jackpot & Black Cat mini-series.
Rating: SKIM IT
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