Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Comics Capsule Reviews

3/18/14 Books

The Shadow #23 – Marvel and DC have mostly forgotten how to do story-centered, agenda free comics. Thank goodness (except for the price tag) for companies like Dynamite and IDW. Each month, The Shadow delivers a heapin’ helpin’ of 1930s pulpy goodness and blazin’ firearms. In this issue, an unnamed Russian WWI vet makes it to America after a life of mercenary fighting. Most of the story is from his point of view, as he works his way across New York City relating his previous life of murder and larceny. He moves up the social ladder by killing the person beneath him. The Shadow doesn’t show up until the end of the story, just in time to deal out some social justice with his twin .45s. Turns out they knew each other in the past. The Shadow’s story had a happier conclusion.
Too bad this title is cancelled in two issues ... it’s a treat to read every month, thanks to writer Chris Roberson. The man does not phone in his work and obviously has the same love for pulp heroes that I do.
Ghosted #8 – Jackson T. Winters is a bad man. An unrepentant grifter, he was recently broken out of prison by a billionaire to acquire for him, of all things, a ghost. That didn’t go so well. In this second adventure, Jackson is paid by a woman to kidnap her demon-possessed niece from a secret society of devil worshippers. High concept enough for you? Jackson is just enough of a likable rogue for readers to root for him. His mission takes a bit of a turn when the cult leader asks him to stay and become an honored member. It also doesn’t help that he is being personally haunted by Anderson Lake, a female bodyguard killed on one of his earlier capers. Trouble is, she is cheering on the folks trying to kill him. Writer Joshua Williamson provides a fun, humorous horror tale and artist Davide Gianfelice provides some very nice art. Recommended.
Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows #4 – Despite the goofy title, this Star Wars story delivers the goods. Taking place between Star Wars movies III & IV, Darth is busy killing people and breaking things for the Emperor, not aware he has a whiny son and temporarily hot daughter alive somewhere in the universe. With the help of one of the Jango Fett clones, Darth invades the planet Ostor to kill a band of Separatists. Writer Tim Siedell and artist Gabriel Guzman feature some explosive space battles and character work on the clone, who is trying to stand out from his identical brethren. Licensed titles used to be strong birdcage fodder, but Dark Horse is one of the first companies to make comics connected to movies or other media stand on their own merits. Since Disney bought Marvel, their own comic company, the Star Wars license is reverting to Marvel at the end of 2014. That’s too bad—instead of thoughtful, original adventure stories that capture the voices of the original characters, readers will be subjected to a politically correct Vader bursting through walls shouting his own name. Dark Horse has done a fantastic job with Star Wars. They deserve better, as does the property.

Legenderry #3 – Writer Bill Willingham has given readers a few new concepts to chew on in his time. This is quite an eclectic mix—a steampunk adventure featuring new old versions of the Phantom, Green Hornet, Vampirella and the Six Million (here, Thousand) Dollar Man. It’s sort of a head-scratching idea, but multi-talented Willingham has it all under control. Here, Vampirella and the Green Hornet have put femme fatale Magna Spadarossa on a dirigible to protect her from the evil forces pursuing her. While having dinner at the Captain’s Table, she meets the delightful Steve Austin and his pal Oscar Goldman. When she is later attacked, Austin straps on his new $6000 arm and legs and protects her from the attacking reprobates. Willingham is obviously having fun bringing a new twist to these classic characters and takes readers along for the ride.
Daredevil #1 – Another of Marvel’s useless and overhyped relaunches. Desperate to slavishly please shareholders, they relaunch with the same creative team as last month, continuing the same storyline. How much longer until every Marvel comic is a #1? To be fair, there is a major difference from the last issue—Matt Murdock has moved from Hell’s Kitchen in New York City to San Francisco. Waid continues to explore Daredevil’s more swashbuckling side, rather than wallowing in the misery in which other recent writers have frozen the character. Murdock explores his new city and makes new friends. When we last left Murdock’s partner Foggy, he was being treated for an aggressive form of cancer, and Waid leaves what happened a bit of a mystery. A great read, as usual, but the useless and cynical new #1 bars a strong recommendation.


  1. How did they arrange it so DD moves to SF? Thought he was dedicated to the people of Hell's Kitchen. Get it? The devil of Hell's Kitchen. But... change is how interesting stories are made.

  2. *Big spoiler* - To get out of a legal delimma, Matt Murdock admitted he was Daredevil on the stand during a trial. Subsequently, he lost his license to practice law in New York. He used to live in SF briefly and was licensed to practice in California, so he moved there. I'd prefer Daredevil in Hell's Kitchen, but it is an interesting idea, as the whole world now knows he is Daredevil and that he lied about it the first time he was "outed."