(Click title to go directly to the review)
Advance Review: SUPER SONS #1
DIVINITY III: SHADOWMAN & THE BATTLE OF NEW STALINGRAD #1
BLOOD BLISTER #1
POWER MAN & IRON FIST #13
THE FLINTSTONES #8
THE UNWORTHY THOR #4
PLANET OF THE APES/GREEN LANTERN #1
FLASH GORDON: KINGS CROSS #4
THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #17
SUPER SONS #1Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Jorge Jiminez
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Rob Patey (a.k.a. Optimous Douche)
Succession, a term that comic fans crave and loathe in equal amounts. We want our favorite heroes to evolve and grow, but then juxtapose those desires with desires of instant accessibility to story or for characters to remain grounded in their roots. Cultivating superhero brands 75 years in, sounds like one of the most unenviable and impossible jobs ever. Do a reboot, be blamed for pulling a fast one. Don’t reboot, and hear that no one can follow or believe this fantastical tale of tired tropes from a generation gone by.
I hold no sacred cows and thus welcome the new era that SUPERSONS heralds. The circle of life is a cliché, but clichés resonate because they often hold large swaths of truths. When THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS (the first one, not the faltering follow-ups) dropped in 1986, I got chills from an aged bat and the possibility of a Carrie Kelly successor. Likewise, when KINGDOM COME hit the stands, I was all about Magog and the rest of the new super crew. Sure, they were douchey, but Gen X was a pretty douchey and depressed generation in our twenties. I knew the old guard would help those heroes eventually mature, just as Baby Boomers have made us Gen Xers better adults now that we are in our 40s and 50s. I see no bite to a story without succession, which is why I found myself fairly fucking bored with the New 52 version of Superman and the gaggle of Robins so close to one another in age that Bruce Wayne must have been using Costco as his adoption agency.
Damian Wayne was an idea that was made classic by Grant Morrison’s hand, but was also long past due in my opinion. A Bat brat is something I would have readily accepted, but fell in love with because Grant made the lil guy so damn haughty. Jonathan Kent, while possessing a more convoluted origin, is a loss I lamented when the concept of an adopted son was lost due to the New 52. The only good thing to come out of Convergence was a melding of realities where our more middle aged Lois and Clark had kept their drumbeat moving forward. LOIS & CLARK (the comic, not the TV sow) set a tenor for what I wanted in comics and prayed for a broader reach in-continuity. DC delivered, they nuked skinny pants Superman and brought back the more barrel chested hero of yore and his family post Rebirth. I don’t know what sales numbers looked like, but I haven’t been this into SUPERMAN and ACTION for years. Under Tomasi’s guidance we have a series of book that balance heart, home and heroics in perfectly equal amounts.
SUPERSONS 1 is a continuation point from many years of books, but also a jumping in for the next generation of readers. Yes, what has been desperately sought amidst reboots and soft resets was found with the natural progression of real life. You don’t need the pretext of past titles, but there is also no retreading of time needed so longtime fangeezers won’t be bored. If you missed this pint-size dynamic duos first outing in SUPERMAN a few months ago, don’t fret. It was a good read, but certainly not required to understand this title. Damian is arrogant, Jon is pure. If you know their Dads, you’ll quickly acclimate to how the sons behave.
The only thing I did find mildly confusing is that Tomasi sets the first issue narrative in three time periods. When, now and then. The when is a prologue, not sure when it happened or frankly why. We see a family on a TV set. The son is like that kid from the Twilight Zone episode where the little boy got everything he wanted by wishing it. Holding his “family” together by terror, the scene quickly ends after a group hug. The now is where we see our new kids on the block, Damian and Jonathan, being chased through a jungle by a bunch of bitty bots dressed like them. The rest of the book is set in the jus then and where the pages come alive thanks to crisp characterization and Jiminez’s cartoony (but not too much) playfulness in the art.
After some time at school, including a guest appearance by Damian as the school bus driver, the action kicks up a notch to presumably land us at some point in the future in this article’s aforementioned “now” part of the book. Damian is the devil that sits upon Jonathan’s shoulder getting him to shirk his “real boy” responsibilities for high tail adventures that land the two in the Metropolis trying to break into the Lexcorp tower. The books ends with the twp coming face-to-face with our favorite bald bad guy who is still posing as the not-so-super Superman in recent months.
Tomasi continues to crush the family dynamic side of comics, with SUPERSONS becoming a worthy addition to the Super lineup. With King keeping things fairly dark on the Batman side of the house, I’d say the DC lineup overall has finally come to a state of balance after many many months of upheaval and change.
When he puts down comic books Rob Patey is in charge of digital content marketing for a little computer start-up called IBM. Head to IBM Security to see the softer side of the man we’ve affectionately called Optimous Douche for the past 9 years.
KINGPIN #1Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Artist: Ben Torres
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Justin Burkhardt and @justinburkhardt on Twitter
I read a lot of Spider-Man comics growing up, but that character of Spider-Man was always secondary to me. Blasphemy you say? Well it’s only because my love of the Spider-Man series has always been based on the villains.
My favorite Spider-Man action figures have always been of the various villains (One of my favorite figures as kid was a Toy Biz Venom that came with black slime). Depending on what mood I’m in, I believe that Spider-Man or Batman has the best set of villains in the comic book world.
Many of these Spidey villains would go on to have their own incredible stories outside of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN books. Kingpin is a fine example of this, being that he eventual would become an enemy of both Daredevil and The Punisher. Wilson Fisk has always been one of my favorite comic book villains, but my enthusiasm for the character has grown in the past two years. Vincent D’Onofrio’s fascinating portrayal of Fisk in Netflix’s Daredevil series has taken my interest in the character to a whole new level.
After the success of Netflix’s DAREDEVIL series, it’s no surprise that many characters in Matt Murdock’s universe are getting their own on-going books from Marvel. Kingpin is the latest character to get said treatment. When the book was first announced, Marvel described the book as Kingpin wanting to “go legit” and to do so he would be hiring a journalist to help him with his public relations problem.
So being someone with both a public relations and journalism background, who also loves the character, I naturally had to check out KINGPIN #1. I thought it would be right up my alley, and I was right. The series is written by Matthew Rosenberg (WE CAN NEVER GO HOME, 4 KIDS WALK INTO A BANK) which, being a fan of his work, is also another reason why I was excited to check it out. Rosenberg also wrote the CIVIL WAR II: KINGPIN, so he has recent experience with the character.
In KINGPIN, we find that Fisk is back in New York and that he reaches out to journalist Sarah Dewey in hopes that she will help write his biography. This first issue is a slow burn and basically deals with Dewey, a recovering alcoholic, conflicted on whether or not she can accept the assignment. In the first issue, you can tell that Rosenberg is clearly taking his time with his storytelling in order to dig deep in terms of Fisk and Dewey.
The book has a real indie noir feel to it, which makes sense since it has Rosenberg writing it. Fans of the Netflix series will enjoy the fact that both Wesley and Matt Murdock make an appearance in the first issues. I really enjoyed a couple panels where Fisk visits Dewey at her apartment a 1 A.M. Dewey is lounging around wearing an outfit with a Spider-Man log on it and Fisk makes a joke about it. These panels provided a necessary splash of lightheartedness in a book that deals with dark and complex issues.
The art is by Ben Torres (KNIGHT WATCHMAN) with colors by Jordan Boyd (INVISIBLEREPUBLIC). The many dark panels and shadowy backgrounds do a nice job of matching the tone of the story. The color/art of the individual panels really put a focus on the characters themselves. Fisk himself in this book is drawn as a larger than life figure (For example, his hands are freaking huge) which is needed in terms of the character.
Last year, THE VISION from Marvel Comics was my favorite book. THE VISION was something really different in terms of the other books Marvel had out. I really feel like KINGPIN has similar long-term potential. If you’re looking for a book that tells a quick story and is packed with action, this may not be for you. But if you’re looking for a book that’s going to dig deep into one of comic’s best villains, then check this out. This major publisher book with an indie feel, has true long-term potential.
DIVINITY III: SHADOW MAN AND THE BATTLE OF NEW STALINGRAD #1Writer: Scott Bryan Wilson
Artist: Robert Gill
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Reviewer: Masked Man
Valiant's latest Divinity project rolls along, with this new one-shot showcasing how things went south for Shadow Man in this 'Elsewhere'. For those of you who aren't hip to it, Divinity is a human (Abram Adams) turned god level being in the Valiant U. He has a twin in the Russia born Myshka. Seemingly Myshka has changed history, and now the Soviet Union never fell, and even rules the world. Backed by pretty much all of Valiant's heroes, even one against his will, Shadow Man.
This issue tells the tale of how the Soviets got Shadow Man to work for them. Spoiler time: One climactic fight. A few years back, Donald Trump's good buddy Vladimir Putin decided to draw the elusive Shadow Man out of hiding by blowing up the Statue of Liberty. The Soviet occupying forces then started killing all and any protestors. And as Popeye often said, “That's all I can stands, I can't stands no more.” And Shadow Man, backed by his army of the undead, started whipping major @$$. Until (big spoiler) the combine forces of X-0 Manowar and Bloodshot take him down.
Wilson does a pretty decent job with this script, even though there really isn't much to it. Maybe it's because I'm an American myself, that I could feel some of Shadow Man's outrage. Either way good job Mr. Wilson.
Artist Robert Gill does a bang-up job here as well. Everything just looks pretty great and flows well. There were a couple of panel jumps I didn't quite understand, but I'm guessing that had more to do with a script flaw than Gill's art.
Lastly, we get a back-up tale giving us the origin of a famous Russian folklore witch, Baba Yaga. It's written by DIVINITY III scribe Matt Kindt and draw by Juan Jose Ryp. It's all creepy and ties into the new DIVINITY III history, of course. It also gives the clue that there is yet another(!) god like powered super being (well the story is called DIVINITY III).
Overall, this isn't necessary to the greater DIVINITY III: STALINVERSE, but it does provide colorful background information. So if your enjoying DIVINITY III, I'd say it's well worth your time.
BLOOD BLISTER #1Writer: Phil Hester
Artist: Tony Harris
Publisher: Aftershock Comics
Reviewer: Humphrey Lee
Aftershock Comics is now two for two in the past couple months for producing a title whose primary creative pair is a dream team of eyebrow (and pants) raising proportions. There’s no denying the star power of Hester and Harris, two gentlemen who have produced material so near and dear to my heart I would slap siblings twice if I had to each time I reread the stories. So, in short, BLOOD BLISTER here represents essentially all that I believe has been good and holy about comic books for the past twenty years under the roof of a publishing house that is becoming a little less fledgling with each creative team like this it presents to the market. So, no pressure, obviously.
In a way this debut was kind of everything I expected of Hester and Harris. BLOOD BLISTER is a dark, sardonic, cynical piece of work that will leave you reaching for the steel wool afterward to make yourself clean after reading. On the other hand, this brand new introductory issue felt a little oddly paced and balanced. For twenty pages we follow Brand Hull, a firm representative that gets energy deals done and is an epic shitstain of a human being while them. We get a day in the life of the wheeler-dealer and how his day essentially consists of attempting to rip off the “common folk” of their land for energy development, being an uncaring, absentee dad, and then kind of being spineless about that last point with one verbal berating from his wife on the phone. Also, shit is getting downright and literally biblical around him as he goes about his daily business and scripture touting oddities keep surrounding him as he does his slimy business, which ends up being the least creepy thing about the day as it progresses.
The thing is, all of that is intriguingly weird and is a good stage setter, but this debut kind of leaves us abruptly hanging as to what these incidents mean. “Abruptly” is the key word I’m kind of getting at with my previous statements about this first issue being kind of janky. While we do get a pretty good insight into the conniving, self-centered ways of Brand and smatterings of the supernatural storm brewing around him, the cutoff point for the issue kind of cuts off the momentum even though it ends on a really tense cliffhanger page. It felt more like it was meant to be a transition to a third act given how the book built up than the “to be continued…” it really was while leaving the reader to bask in how quickly shit got real in the last couple pages. We’re given enough material within Brand’s day from literal Hell to kind of put two and two together, but it just felt like w weren’t really given the full wind up and release of the pitch that these premieres usually deliver. But as I’ve already beaten home by now, chances are if you’re picking up the first issue of this book you’re already in for at least an arc because you’re doing it for a creative team that has more than earned your trust to play things out however the hell they want.
I hope all of that doesn’t kind of shed a negative light on this debut issue, other than the parts where I am blatantly saying it is goddamn dark book. It’s just the build up leads to a weird place to jump off, especially after giving you a whole issue of a lead character that you kind of want to punch in the face almost as soon as you are introduced to him. Obviously, though, that’s the point, and just why this character is whom we are following and just why the bad place is interested in him should be something to see once we get deeper in the muck of it all next issue. And that muck looks amazing, as if I need to reiterate that Tony Harris is one of the most expressive and detailed artists in the business, but I spent so much time trying to describe why I’m just a wee bit tentative about the overall plot that I never really gave the art chores their due. I’m sure everything will start evening out as we get deeper into this story and the who’s, why’s, and where do we go from here’s start to play out and show why we should be invested in such a piece of human dreck like Brand, even if it’s to root for him to fail on the ultimate metaphysical level. Who knows but the guys helming the ship and you would be hard pressed to find two captains worth putting your complete trust into when it comes this medium.
Humphrey Lee has been an avid comic book reader going on fifteen years now and a contributor to Ain't It Cool comics for quite a few as well. In fact, reading comics is about all he does in his free time and where all the money from his day job wages goes to - funding his comic book habit so he can talk about them to you, our loyal readers (lucky you). He's a bit of a social networking whore, so you can find him all over the Interwebs on sites like Twitter, The MySpaces, Facebookand a blog where he also mostly talks about comics with his free time because he hasn't the slightest semblance of a life. Sad but true, and he gladly encourages you to add, read, and comment as you will.
POWER MAN AND IRON FIST #13Writer: David Walker
Artist: Elmo Bondoc
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man
Ah, I do love me some Power Man and Iron Fist these days. David Walker has created a fun urban adventure book for the ages. So much so, it pains me that Marvel is breaking it up in May, with a separate POWER MAN and IRON FIST comics (FYI- Walker will only be writing Power Man, I guess he's not the right color to write Iron Fist (burn! lol).
Anyway, back to this great book. This is a bit of a time out issue as (spoiler time) crime boss Tombstone dropped a building on all the other characters last issue. The action started with Alex Wilder (see RUNAWAYS) trying to (magic) muscle his way into Tombstone's chair. Now the police want to know what the hell is going on, Piranha Jones is R.I.P., Black Mariah is pushing Alex to go even further, Tombstone makes an alliance with Black Talon (sweet Christmas!) and our heroes are still stuck in the middle of it all!
After the chaos and action of the last issue, this is a very nice 'reset button' issue. As Walker is starting to put the pieces back together again. Surely building up for an even bigger climax. As each bad guy in this gang war is just itching to make everything worst. When even Senor Magico can't keep everything together, you know it's bad news. And seriously, once Walker's run on POWER MAN AND IRON FIST is all but forgotten, I sure hope Senor Magico is still around- come on now, Senor Magico!
Elmo Bondoc steps in for regular artist Sanford Greene here. Bondoc has been bouncing around Marvel for a little while now. But here, it seems he's trying to match Greene's art, to some degree. It's a little rough and artsier than usual, but it looks good. While not as avant-guard as Greene, I'd say it's a bit more solid than Greene. I totally dig Black Talons reveal and all the demon stuff.
This is great buddy adventure book, anyone who likes that and/or superheroes should totally give POWER MAN AND IRON FIST a try.
THE FLINSTONES #8Writer: Mark Russell
Artisits: Steve Pugh
Publisher: DC Comics
Remember the original theme song for the Flintstones’? That they were a modern stone age family, torn from a page right out of history? Watching them would result in a gay, old time? Well, that’s not the DC version. They are very much a modern family, but even though the comic takes place during the stone age, their story seems to be taken from the pages of our newspapers. These aren’t tales of ancient history, but about our society. That’s right. THE FLINTSTONES have gone political.
The first issue of the series was released in a happier time, July of 2016. I cannot say for certain how far ahead the creative team planned issues of their social satire, but the plots continue to be eerily prescient. Maybe they’re getting briefings from the Great Gazoo or the Jetsons travelled back to our time in order to rewrite history.
THE FLINSTONES is told in an episodic format, similar to that of the television show, complete with the stereotypical sitcom A, B, and C plotline. While there are characters and storylines that are maintained throughout the series, you need not catch up to enjoy issue #8. Though enjoy isn’t exactly the right word to describe the experience of reading THE FLINSTONES. Appreciate is more like it.
THE FLINSTONES #8 covers multiple social issues, including capitalism and sexism. All you Marxist and socialists out there would get quite a kick out the “scam” of economics being regaled to middle school kids. Mr. Pebblen exposes the evils of the “leisure class,” in particular its main beneficiary, (white) men. I say (white) as minorities in this series go beyond skin color, but also what stage of evolution various “humans” find themselves in.
The series is dark. There rarely are happy endings. Social injustices are brought to the surface for the reader to judge, but rarely do these revelations actually change the society from which they were bred. The series does go back to its roots every once in awhile. While a majority of the jokes are wry and satirical, there are a few of a parodic, light nature. These mostly come from the naming of characters, locations, and marketing. You’ve got Sloth West and Chee-toes. But most of the humor is dry, such as the middle school mascot being the “fighting tree people.” I wasn’t sure whether to chuckle, groan, or face-palm.
Some may be disappointed that THE FLINSTONES isn’t more light-hearted. While I try to stray from political or social commentaries in my reviews, this comic goes to show how that is not the conscionable choice these days. This is the type of criticism needed right now. It is sharp and smart. Bold and brash. When you’re with these Flinstones, you’ll have a grave, old time.
Lyzard is Lyz Reblin, a graduate student at Michigan Tech pursuing a doctorate in Rhetoric, Theory, and Culture... which is just a fancy way of saying she plays a lot video games, watches far too many horror films, and then tries to pass it all off as "research."
THE UNWORTHY THOR #4Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Olivier Coipel, Frazer Irving, Esad Ribic, and Russell Dauterman
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man
Continuing the tale of Thor, not Thor looking to get his hands on a new Mjolnir. Thor scribe Jason Aaron keeps the peddle to the metal with this one. And if you are wondering why there are four different artists? Well we got some flash backs in this issue.
Getting into the spoiler action, the flash backs cover Thor's history with Mjolnir. Not having it, having it, and not having it again. Each one digs into the psychic of Thor. Meanwhile in the here and now, formerly known as Thor, backed by Beta Ray Bill, a hell hound and one of his giant goats, slugs it out with Thanos' goons Black Swan and Proxima Midnight. They, obviously want the hammer for Thanos. But the current owner of the hammer (who stole abandon Asgard along with it, since he can't lift it), the Collector wants them all in cages or just dead, because no one is taking his hammer. So the rest of this issue is just mass chaos and action. Until, I can't believe it's not Thor finally wraps his fingers around the hammer- cliffhanger! Oh, and if you didn't know- SECRET WARS- the new hammer is from the once Ultimate Marvel U.
First off, this is an entertaining tale of Marvel's cosmic crew, all very cool. But on the other hand, this mini-series appears to be just a frick'n money grab. As in, it's not really moving the “why is Thor not Thor' storyline forward, opposed to five completely uncompressed issues of him getting a new hammer. Something that could have been covered easily in the regular THOR comic (but then Marvel would be short five extra issues to sell). Back on the plus side, it's a great looking and entertaining book.
Although, Aaron may have finally given us a clue to why formerly known as Thor is unworthy. It's in the flashbacks, and here's my guess: Back when he was Thor, tricked Mjolnir into thinking he was worthy. Which I suppose is decent enough. Dragging the reveal along this long though, is not cool. If Aaron actually reveals all in the finally issue (which I'm sure he won't), I'll take back all the negative things I said. This will be a worth while mini-series.
Unless that happens, THE UNWORTHY THOR is just a really well done fluff piece. As I said, the script and art are all pretty awesome (well, Coipel was a bit too sketchy for me in this issue, but still). Overall, Jason Aaron has made a mountain out of this whole She-Thor / Thor, not Thor mole hill. He's done such a great job of it all, it seems like Marvel wants him to drag it on as long as the original Spider-Man Clone Conspiracy arc. Which ended up killing everything anyone was enjoying. I sure hope this doesn't happen here, but I know I'm getting a bit sick of waiting.
PLANET OF THE APES/GREEN LANTERN #1Story: Robbie Thompson
Writer: Justin Jordan
Artist: Barnaby Bagenda
Publisher: IDW Publishing/DC Comics
Reviewer: Justin Burkhardt and @justinburkhardt on Twitter
I have to admit something that may be pretty unpopular here… I never really was able to get into the Green Lantern. In my early years of reading comics, I kind of found the Green Lantern to be a bit boring. And as I got older, I just never really pursued any Green Lanterns comics any further.
Now that’s not to say I am totally unfamiliar with the character. As someone who used to work at a comic book store, I know the basics of Green Lanterns such as Guy Gardner, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner, and Simon Baz. I obviously know who Sinestro is and understand the general history of the Green Lanterns. (If you have any suggestions in terms of which classic Green Lantern stories I should read, feel free to comment because I am interested). So why would I pick the newest Green Lantern comic to review this week? Well because it’s a mini-series crossover featuring one of my favorite properties of all-time, Planet of the Apes. Yes, you read that correctly there is a PLANET OF THE APES/GREEN LANTERN crossover from Boom Studios/DC Comics. The series is to last six issues, and trust me I understand at first glance it seems like a strange combination.
While I’m a big Planet of the Apes fan, I don’t approve of just everything that has the Apes name slapped on to it. Previous Apes comics have been hit or miss in my opinion. The Tim Burton movie was awful, but the most recent films have really breathed new life into the franchise. However, the classic Planet of the Apes films will always be my favorite. I own the entire collection on Blu Ray and I also own every figure that NECA Toys made in their hugely underrated Apes action figure line. My love for the classic Apes is why I decided to check out this crossover.
Like a food combination that sounds weird but tastes delicious, this first issue works. The reason why it works is because it stays faithful to Apes and Lanterns universe. The story is by Robbie Thompson (SPIDEY, SILK) and written by Justin Jordan (SPREAD, LUTHOR STRODE). In the story, Cornelius stumbles upon a crater on the Planet of the Apes and finds a mysterious artifact (ring) that has fallen from the sky. Hal Jordan eventually finds his way to the planet, where Cornelius has put on the ring. This universal power ring harnesses the power of the emotional spectrum, and it’s very interesting to see what it does to Cornelius and how he uses it.
The story does a solid job of tying in different elements from the Green Lantern (Sinestro, Red Lanterns, etc) and the Planet of the Apes (Zira, Nova) franchises. You don’t get a lot of answers in this book, but the first issue does a good job of putting pieces in place to tell an interesting story. Artwork by Barnaby Bagenda (OMEGA MEN) and colors by Alex Guimarães (SUPERMAN: AMERICAN ALIEN, LORD OF MARS) is terrific. Bagenda does a great job of fusing the different looks of the two franchises together. The art really shines during the POTA scenes, and it looks like the familiar apes setting I know and love.
Crossovers have long been a part of the comic book industry, but there have been quite a few recently. Some recent crossovers have been a lot of fun (BATMAN/TMNT). Others have been weird combinations that just don’t work (ARCHIE VS. PREDATOR). PLANET OF THE APES/GREEN LANTERN is a weird sci-fi mash up that works. DC/Boom Studios recent JUSTICE LEAGUE/POWER RANGERS crossover may have gotten more buzz, but this is the one you should actually be reading. Fans of both the Green Lantern and the Planet of the Apes should enjoy this book. The first issue lays the groundwork of what could be a very good series.
FLASH GORDON: KINGS CROSS #4Writers: Jeff Parker and Jesse Hamm
Artist: Jesse Hamm
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Reviewer: Masked Man
Dynamite's epic saga of the King Feature's heroes continues with FLASH GORDON: KINGS CROSS. I have to say, I was looking forward to this latest series, as it featured the return of writer Jeff Parker. Parker (currently writing the entertaining FUTURE QUEST for DC), penned the kick-off series, KINGS WATCH and the very excellent FLASH GORDON series for Dynamite. This time, well not so much.
To give you a quick overview of the Kings' storyline, Ming the Merciless (infamous arch-villain of Flash Gordon) attacked Earth. While he managed to knock Earth tech back to the 1940's (pre-computers), Flash Gordon, Mandrake the Magician and the Phantom managed to defeat him. Since then it's been a back a forth struggle between the defenders of the Earth and the forces of Mongo. Currently, using his 'worm-hole' tech, Ming has drop and entire continent from Mongo on to Earth (the Pacific Ocean isn't as big as it used to be. With Ming now on Earth, he has started using gun-boat diplomacy. While attacking the United States, he claims he's not responsible for the attacks, yet only he can save the good ole USA from these attacks. So if we want the attacks to stop, we must vote Ming supreme ruler- so we do.
This issue focuses on Ming's plan to capture our heroes, as they invade his continent. Basically, giving them drug fueled fantasies, often played for laughs. So while Flash, Mandrake, (Lothar) Phantom, (she-)Phantom, Prince Valiant, and Jungle Jim can't defend themselves properly, they are all capture by Ming's beast-men. It's then, they learn of the United States has elected Ming supreme ruler.
The story is entertaining enough, although a bit weird to the old school Flash Gordon fan in me. But the biggest weakness to this new series, to point fingers, (and mainly by comparison to the last Flash series) is Jesse Hamm. It turns out Parker is merely putting the plot together and Hamm is writing the 'shooting' script, if you will. And while it's in no way bad, it also lacks polish. Everything just doesn't come off as well as I'd like it too. Same with the artwork. Hamm is one of those artists that does very fine personal work, but when it comes to interior pages- it's all quite lackluster. He has an “outsider art” quite that only works when he is at his best. When he's not, it's rather amateurish looking. His storytelling is pretty weak too, as I get lost in his action from time to time. In the end I hope he continues to improve as an artist and a writer.
One odd point, I thought they had made Dale Arden a lesbian in the last series (romantically involved with (she-)Phantom). Now she seems interested in Flash again. Ah well, I guess the heart is fickle.
If you've been enjoying these Kings books from Dynamite, FLASH GORDON: KINGS CROSS will be just what the doctored order. While not as good as FLASH GORDON, it's superior to the last series, KINGS QUEST. For the rest of you, proceed with caution.
THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #17Writer: Ryan North
Artisits: Erica Henderson and Chris Schweizer
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Despite a lack of reviews I have indeed kept up with the adventures of THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL. Learning to count binary on your fingers is a handy trick when you spend your days surrounded by programmers and engineers (as taught by issue #11). The ideal audience for THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL is probably rather similar to its main character: youths who do not balk at being addressed as nerd or geeks. Note that I didn’t bring up gender. It isn’t really an issue discussed in most issues. Which in itself makes it an attractive book for the so-called “opposite gender”, but that would be better discussed in a footnote section that writer Ryan North uses to great effect for his asides.
As plots go, the seventeenth issue of THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL is rather predictable, though I would advise reading to the very last page of this issue and not just the end of the story. Doreen Green attends a lecture at ECU regarding programming errors and while this may be a bore to some, our incognito rodent female is fascinated by the guest lecturer, Dr. Melissa Morbeck. The captivation goes both way as Doreen and Morbeck bond over much more than just catastrophes by way of human miscalculation, but interrelate regarding a unique animal kinship. As I said, the plot is quite transparent, but that doesn’t make it any less humorous or fun. Plus, you get a second comic in this book courtesy of Nancy Whitehead.
In my review for ANGEL CATBIRD, another but less successful animal-based superhero entry, the plethora of animal puns did me in. North has proven in prior issues that he is adept at wordplay and puns, but more importantly here he shows that he knows when to stop or at least draw attention to the ridiculousness that comes along with a plethora of fauna witticisms.
It is refreshing to read a series that doesn’t take itself too seriously, a series that avoids many of the pitfalls that come with the “nature of serial storytelling” as North would put it. Along with one of my other current favorite series (DC’s THE FLINTSTONES), THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL doesn’t require meticulous readership. Issues can be skipped, though why would you want to?
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G
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