BOOKS OF MAGIC #1 Review 10/10: magic means consequences, so read cautiously, for the Books of Magic in Timothy Hunter’s hands hold a mysterious and a heavy burden for the emerging teenage magician.
Realism, mystery and suspense emanate from the story.
Vertigo’s magnum opus premieres what may be the best standalone storyline of the new brilliant Sandman series in BOOKS OF MAGIC, written by Kat Howard, Illustrated by Tom Fowler, Colors by Jordan Boyd, Letters by Todd Klein, Cover by Kat Carpenter, and curated for The Sandman Universe by Neil Gaiman.
The following review of BOOKS OF MAGIC #1 may contain SPOILERS***.
A Preview image of BOOKS OF MAGIC #2…
Books of Magic equal consequences.
What could go wrong when Books of Magic hold the keys to Tim becoming the most powerful magician in the universe?
At the start, Tim steps into a fairy tale and magicians show him the ways of magic throughout the ages of the universe.
Fowler’s art styles change dramatically as parts of Tim’s journey are revealed in an ancient wall carving, a fairy land, and even a Picasso-esque glimpse into the “End”.
One look conveys a Big Bang-like quality, but abstract and possible end of the universe, while Tim Hunter is then brought to a choice of “safety” or “magic” as panels become a tumbling deck of cards that are his potential life.
He wakes from that choice in class talking, “Magic! I choose…”
Howard’s strong grasp of the characters’ personalities is evident in the sharp, pointed dialogue.
We can all remember back to interrupting a teacher, maybe after having fallen asleep, and their ability to bring the class to attention.
Dr. Rose shuts down a bully, at least while in her class, instantaneously with a look and a sentence.
Timothy Hunter’s destiny is there, should he choose to the find path of magic.
And just because Tim makes the initial choice of initiation does not mean that he is miraculously gifted with powers or the ability to do anything magical.
Tim Hunter’s first attempt at magic is a failure.
He tries to impress his crush Ellie with paper shreds he says will become a magical flower.
Instead the paper he tried to conjure with crumbles to the ground, unchanged, as the bully makes fun of Tim’s “problems with [his] wand.”
Tim Hunter is a teenager living in London, insecure (as we all are or were), whose Mom and teacher have disappeared.
Superman #5’s remorseless Zod hits home, and in such an impactful way it changes everything.
Superman #5 is all about the entrance of Zod!
The following article may contain *****Spoilers from The Man Of Steel – Superman #1 – Superman #5.
Whether in Richard Donner’s Superman II cinematic cut, Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, or the decades of comic book takes and Superman canon, the infamous name of Zod rings bold and loudly.
Zod the once-celebrated general of Krypton, Zod whose failed coup banished him from the planet he cared so zealously for to the Phantom Zone, Zod whose warrior-like philosophy oft crossed into barbaric territory, while remaining an extremely intelligent leader who inspired the adoption of his maniacal methods.
Superman #5 offers up a conflicted and unpredictable Zod.
As in many great stories, a good villain is a character with growth, in his past, present, and future.
The same holds true for Zod as he enters the Rogul Zaar fray.
In Superman #5: The Unity Saga Pt. 5, writer Brian Michael Bendis, penciler Ivan Reis, colorist Alex Sinclair, inkers Joe Prado and Oclair Albert, letterist Josh Reed, take a fascinating storyline with sensational visuals to deliver an epic twist that will have far reaching consequences for Superman.
And the variant cover by Adam Hughes is simply fantastic and a new favorite of mine!
The classic image of Supes taking the blasts of lightning across his chest and proclaiming: “It Still Tickles” against the black background is remarkable.
This issue starts with a nightmare … Zod’s nightmare.
It is actually a recurring vision of a unified Krypton reborn on Jakuul and the House of El set to ally with the House of Zod before an inky black invasion from the sky blasts Zod’s family to bloody bits.
It ends with Rogul Zaar leering over a bruised and battered General Zod, while Superman lies unconscious or dead nearby.
The General awakes, and he has a family.
And then his son informs him that earth is missing.
As we re-enter the Phantom Zone, Zaar and his army of miscreants have torn up superman’s costume and bloodied his mouth.
This is eerily reminiscent of when Doomsday first started to take control during the colossal fight that would end in Supes and Clark Kent’s demise.
Rarely, do I remember Superman profusely bleeding, and never before Doomsday – please chime in here with comments, Eager Readers – especially in the first thirty or forty years or so of his history.
And rarer still is Superman’s impenetrable skin damaged enough that cuts him and results in profuse bleeding.
So, silly as it may sound, on page eight of this book I am extremely concerned for Superman.
He is leaning on a rock to stay upright, as crimson trickles down his arm, his leg, and spouts from his mess of a mouth.
Zod lands on the newly revitalized earth and forces Atom to use the Phantom Zone projector on him.
General Zod has willingly banished himself back to the Phantom Zone, with little hope to return to his family, especially based on his visions.
Zaar waits for the fleeing Superman to return.
And Superman allows himself to become enraged and ready to kill.
He knows he can destroy Zaar and the entire Phantom Zone if he really wants to.
Ma and Pa Kent appear to him briefly, almost like Jor-El in the Fortress of Solitude, to give him advice.
Here Bendis delivers a touching scene that tugs at the heart-strings.
“If tests were easy . . .” says Ma Kent.
“. . . They wouldn’t be tests,” says Pa Kent.
Superman has achieved his goal: he sacrificed himself to save earth and in so doing forever imprisoned Zaar.
It will surely mean death, because Superman will not become enraged enough to kill Zaar, not even for revenge.
But Zod will.
Zod is still consumed by revenge and hate.
He arrives, blasts the creature, and lands saying:
“I. Am. ZOD.”
The fight of the century just got even bigger and a new, unified Krypton may be at stake.
“Superman #5’s Remorseless Zod Hits Home” was written by R.J. Huneke; pick up your copy now at your local comic shop, like Red Shirt Comics.
There will never be another like Stan ‘the Man’ Lee.
It is a sad day and a joyous, for we must move forward in a world that Stan Lee no longer walks. But, thankfully, he left us with such a bevy of stories, conversations, smiles, Excelsior!’s, cameos, and teachings that we can celebrate a long-lived life that was filled with inspirational art.
The first book I remember reading on my own was a reprint of The Amazing Spider-man #1.
That comic was written by Stan Lee and drawn by Steve Ditko.
I got it out of a cereal box and that book inspired me as a four-year-old to start to write and draw my own comic books, forever shaping my life (I still have the comic too).
Spider-man became my first favorite superhero.
Today Stan Lee is my favorite superhero.
And make no mistake:
Stan Lee is a superhero.
He was a teenager who embellished his age to help out on Captain America and other Marvel books in 1939, not long after the publisher’s inception.
He brilliantly stepped in when a short-handed Marvel Comics called upon him to write and edit.
Stan’s charm and wit and unending creative drive led to the co-creation of some of the world’s most influential mythic figures, from the X-Men to the Fantastic Four, to the world’s first African American superhero to get his own solo title, Luke Cage, to Peter Parker the spectacular neighborhood Spider-man.
We learned in the final page of Spiderman’s first comic book appearance that “…with great power there must also come — great responsibility!” and rarely have more powerful words been so succinctly written or as influential as Stan Lee’s caption in Amazing Fantasy #15.
And Mr. Lee has for the better part of a century continued to make a mark on that modern mythology.
When he did not create the characters he breathed new life into them and brought them down paths they had never dared travel.
When he was not writing or editing a book directly, he was still making decisions to keep the Gamma Rays flowing, and when he was not making decisions, he was very often holding the comic book figures and their stories up and shouting for all in the room to see.
He traveled the world as an ambassador for reading, for making art, for fighting to improve the world through myths, for celebrating all things comics.
He made sure comic books were fun, were received, and were constantly striving for innovation.
And the kindness he received from all of his fans, all of his readers, and all of his fellow artists was reciprocated a thousand times over.
He genuinely loved the world and those in it.
And as he grew older, he did not cease this one bit.
I consider it an honor and a privilege to have spoken with Stan Lee and thanked him for what he and his work meant to me and to everyone whom he worked so hard to meet, graciously, even when he was in his nineties.
He spent hours upon hours meeting as many fans as he could.
He happily taught as part of a Smithsonian virtual comic book history class, The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact On Pop Culture.
He continued to be a joy to as many of his fellow artists as he could spend time with.
He loved his colleagues, innumerable as they became over a nearly eighty-year career.
He understood how precious time is, and in his 95 years, he gave us everything he had and more.
To think that when I got to meet Stan, the legend, humbly smiled, almost sheepishly, as I thanked him ‘for doing this’ for ‘seeing so many people who are inspired by him’ . . . and he thanked me.
He thanked me!
He said: “Thank you very much for saying that. That really means a lot to me.”
He smiled and he talked to me.
So much of my work is touched by this man’s art.
He started me writing.
I am forever indebted to him.
And he was kind enough, no matter how much the handlers pushed him to work harder (even in his nineties), to take a little time to speak with me.
I am deeply saddened and in shock that he is no longer here with us today.
But I am also so happy that he and his works of art make the world a better place every day and will continue to do so.
In his writing, Stan Lee’s world building used real places, like New York City, and realistic characters to be more relatable to us.
His characters were fully fleshed out, were challenged with real social issues, and felt all the conflict and failure that we do.
They were human beings first and superheroes second.
On his watch, no matter how super the superheroes were, they were human beings first.
No matter how superhuman Stan Lee, a Superhero if there ever was one, was and always will be, he was human first too.
Thank you, Stan.
My condolences go out to the family of Stan Lee during this difficult time.
“Stan Lee Inspired Us All: Celebrate His 95 Years” was written by R.J. Huneke.
Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia 2: earth’s cage match! And it is literally underway once champion of a planet run by wrestling, Manifest Destiny, surrounds the earth in a steel cage.
The wrestling invasion is underway in this brilliant thriller/turn-buckle slapping comedy comic book.
The following review contains some ***Spoilers*** for Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia volumes 1 and 2.
Make no mistake, the extremely entertaining conglomeration of all things professional wrestling, great character development and backgrounds, and the meeting of two worlds: the wrestling for entertainment on earth and the planet Wrestletopia, whose civilization is built upon wrestling, makes for witty reading and eager page turning.
And the earth has become one GIANT cage match!
Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia 2: Two Worlds Enter One Leaves and issue 1 was written by Ed “the Carnage Artist” Kuehnel & “Masculine” Matt Entin, with Art by Dan “the Body” Schkade, Colors by Marissa Louise AKA “Col. Von Slamstein”, Lettering by A Larger World Studios (The North Hollywood Nightmares), Edited by “Hangwoman” Mariah Huehner, Design by Fred “DrShoNoLuv” Chao, and Published by Suspicious Behavior Productions, LLC.
For anyone who was at any point in their lives a fan of, or even lightly intrigued by, pro wrestling, Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia is a raucous tribute to an art form.
What started the earth’s sudden alien encumbrance?
Well a successful and cocky heel, the once great, and now broke and constantly fired from his gigs, ‘Rock & Roll’ Rory Landell declares his resignation from the leading wrestling company after learning he would not be getting the AWF Championship Belt promised him.
During the pre-match interview for a championship bout he is going to be forced to lose, Rory brashly declares the AWF does not matter, because he is the “Champion of the Universe.”
When the airwaves reach Planet Wrestletopia years later, its champion and ruler Manifest Destiny flips his wig.
He lands on earth, which is literally locked in a cage in orbit, and his wrestlers wreak havoc on the leaders of world as he calls out Landell.
Tight and dramatic writing brilliantly portrays the stigmas attached to pro wrestling, both good and bad.
The Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia books offer something fresh as marvelous art, intriguing characters, and a somewhat plausibly ridiculous plot provide both suspense, wonderful pasts of earth’s wrestlers struggling to make a living, how’s popping back in dislocated knees for realism, and carefully planned and engaging laughs.
The promoter’s favorite wrestler: a bear who cannot talk, but can get down the wrist and body hurling move to turn the tables on a wary heel in the ring.
Give Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia a Graphic Novel Heavyweight Championship Belt!
“Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia 2: Earth’s Cage Match!” was written by R.J. Huneke.
SPAWN #290 Review: let horror reign. Let horror reign in Al’s hell on earth, because his plan that further unfolds in SPAWN #290 is both frightening and effective.
For Eager SPAWN Readers, there are SPOILERS in this article.
SPAWN #290 – Let Horror Reign
Spawn’s ruthless vendetta grows in exciting, unnerving and downright fright-filled ways.
From the start of the six-part ‘Dark Horror Arc’, Jason Shawn Alexander and Todd McFarlane broke new ghastly ground for the character and world of Spawn, whose hell-ish origins were already quite grim and mysterious.
As time has unfolded from those issues to SPAWN #290, the plot grows more intense, more secretive and more expansive.
For once, Al is not being used as a pawn, or being manipulated for another’s gain, whether in heaven, hell, or earth itself.
The hellspawn that is Al Simmons is something more, something no one is quite sure of yet.
What is becoming clearer by the issue, is that the story hinges on Spawn whose rage has pushed him way over the edge, so that anyone who is in some way corrupt and useful to Al need fear for themselves and their families’ sakes.
When Spawn allows The Freak to go and leverage for bank codes with a man’s wife’s engagement ring hidden in the mouth of a doll made out of a human skull, sticks, and a yellow dress with daisies on it, the reader shudders at the site.
It means that Spawn is now unhinged, uninhibited, and eerily calculating.
And make no mistake: the images from Jason Shawn Alexander are visceral.
His art absolutely amazes.
He creatively draws on sound, so that vibrations, the pluck of a tooth from a skull, saws splitting brains open, and the “SNAP” of a telephone pole add realistic dimensions to the pages.
And the expressions, glowing eyes, and even the body language of an enraged Spawn Costume stretched out to greet an old rival in the Violator-Clown add a sense of weight, movement, and grisly detail.
The realism and surrealism balance each other so well that many of the scenes are nightmarish in all the right ways.
In this book, Lee Loughridge is also brilliant, as his colors add bold brightness around the bleak shadows giving focus to the emotions in the story.
And lest we forget, the practically glowing cover by Francesco Mattina is fantastic.
I am a big fan of good writing and great story that reaches for extraordinary heights, and that is what we have here.
The script/plot of Todd McFarlane is as sharp as a battle-ready sword edge.
For now that his ex-wife Wanda has died and Cyan has been exposed as having powers to mirror Al Simmons’, Spawn moves to publicly call out all of the hidden angels and demons trapped on earth to get at them.
He cannot take them all on alone, but he has grown powerful enough to recruit a slew of his oldest, fiercest enemies including Overt-Kill, Cy-gor, the Curse, and The Freak to do his bidding!
Al even refers to this team of horror as “[his] pets”.
The team’s distraction gives Spawn access to the computer terminals that can reveal all of the players in the conspiracy against mankind.
Turn the corner.
When faced with Clown at the issue’s close, Al points out that his face paint markings have changed prompting an apparent power-sucking blow.
But as Spawn is struck and then bloodily stabbed with a sign post, and seemingly drained of his powers, Violator’s teeth come to the surface of his chubby mouth.
The Violator is lurking beneath.
Later on, the Costume removes the metal from the wound and Al’s life returns with a flicker of green in his eye, and he says: “Excellent. He took the bait.”
All the while, the world’s financial markets have just crashed and bedlam surely awaits.
The build-up to SPAWN #300 is just incredible!
Grab a copy of SPAWN #290 from your LCS while you can, folks [Red Shirt Comics had me covered].
“SPAWN #290 Review: Let Horror Reign” was written by R.J. Huneke.
Rick And Morty Vs Dungeons & Dragons #2 DAMAGED: 8D6 combines two of the most fun endeavors for the geek counterculture that has shaken the fringes of the mainstream but is still – BURP – not quite there…or is it?
By that I mean TV’s Rick and Morty, the infamous sci-fi dynamic duo, and the role-playing game of yore, Dungeons & Dragons.
The comic book series for Rick & Morty is a perfect add-on for the show: each comic is like a raucous new episode set in a Rick and Morty continuity.
Jerry is still separated from Beth, for instance.
And Beth sees a Kobold that looks “a little like Jerry” and proceeds to go all Warrior on its ass with a soon-to-be-bloodied battle hammer!
The Rick And Morty Vs Dungeons & Dragons mini-series is truly extraordinary in that it seamlessly combines the two vastly infinite worlds of the show and game.
The attention to detail here, from the belching Rick, to the way in which Grandpa shows his horny grandson trying to learn the game to start out in Third Edition is dead-on and hilarious.
Expeditions lead to many monsters and missions and many treasures and lessons.
All is going swimmingly when Morty, who wants to be a rogue, despite Summer choosing this, is forced to be the Cleric, the party’s Healer, because as Rick says, ”no double dipping on classes, Morty. It’s a dick move.”
And then the Challenge Ratings go up from 2 to 4 to 5.
The XP Gained goes as follows:
2000, 4000, and then as Morty unlocks a chest without asking if there are traps: “Damaged: 8D6” with a “Reflex save for half damage.”
He, Beth and Summer are on fire while Rick is laughing his ass off in the background after they learned their lesson.
Summer, I mean, Winterblade, even gets a great “SNEAK ATTACK” in!
The first issue in the Rick And Morty Vs Dungeons & Dragons series talked about all of the starting rules, in detail, and had a fun set of adventures, virtual and otherwise, in it.