Monday, November 10, 2014

Review: Ms. Tree Quarterly #8

Ms. Tree Quarterly, "Maternity Leave," Cover Date Summer, 1992
Written by Max Allan Collins, Penciled and Inked by Terry Beatty

"Who or what is Ms. Tree?" was my reaction when I saw this cover. I've always been more of a Marvel Zombie, but I thought I knew most of DC's books during this time, and I had never heard of any "Ms. Tree." Fortunately, wikipedia exists, and I was able to discover that Ms. Tree is a detective in the classic pulp tradition, who inherited her husband's business after he was murdered by gangsters. By his own admission, Max Allan Collins conceived of the series as a sort of "what if" Mike Hammer married his secretary, Velda, and then was killed?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review: Thunderstrike #4

Thunderstrike #4, “Evil Woman,” Cover Date January 1994
Written by Tom DeFalco, Penciled by Ron Frenz, Inked by Al Milgrom

Thunderstrike 4 Cover

In my previous Thor review, I comp’ed to never having been a big fan of the character’s solo series, emphasizing how at his worst, the character can be a little too similar to Superman with a funny accent. As such, I haven’t read much of Thunderstrike, so a lot of this information is second-hand.

Thunderstrike is Eric Masterson, an architect merged with Thor early in DeFalco’s run, echoing the “Dr. Donald Blake” alter ego of the silver age. Unlike other alter egos (except Captain Mar-Vell), Masterson kept his own personality, including an ex-wife and young son. For a time period, he served as Thor on his own, while Thor was exiled for killing Loki. After Thor came back, Odin created a new mace for Masterson. He debuted as “Thunderstrike,” a slightly less powerful 90’s version of Thor that got his own series in the 90’s.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Review: NFL Superpro #7

NFL Superpro #7, "All Abuzz," Cover Date April, 1992
Written by Evan Skolnik, Penciled by Jose Delbo, Inked by Mike De Carlo

NFL Superpro 7 Cover

As anyone that even casually follows sports can tell you, it’s been a rough few months for the NFL. In the wake of video footage of Ray Rice knocking out his fiancĂ©e, the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell have found themselves under increased media scrutiny, not helped by the fact that players continue to make headlines for beating their children, getting repeated DUIs, receiving drug suspensions and promptly losing thirty pounds, and otherwise behaving as less than ideal role models for children everywhere. Perhaps it’s time for the NFL to turn back to one hero they can always count on: NFL SuperPro!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Review: Thor #428

Thor #428, "If this be Juggernaut," Cover Date January, 1991
Written by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz (plot), Penciled by Ron Frenz, Inked by Joe Sinnott

Thor 428 Cover

Thor is one of those ongoing series ideas that I never really understood. A perfectly acceptable supporting character in the Avengers, he's kind of limited by being a pretty hugely boring character who speaks in a strange accent. He's had an on-going series on-and-off for nearly fifty years, and outside of Walt Simonson's run, in which recognized Thor's blandness by focusing on a diverse supporting cast and less on Thor, the series has more or less been pretty forgettable for the majority of that time. That said, one of the better forgettable runs on the book probably belong to Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz, formerly of Amazing Spider-Man. The duo are perhaps best-remembered for their all-time classic Spidey story "the kid who collects Spider-Man," a story that could've so easily turned treacly, but managed to avoid it just long enough to bring on the waterworks for most Spidey fans. After leaving that book, the team stayed together elsewhere, moving to Thor post-Simonson, where their attempt to get around the "Thor is boring" problem was to introduce a new, untrained character into the Thor mythos. DeFalco and Frenz would later collaborate on an issue of "What If?" that featured Peter Parker's daughter, Spider-Girl, who would go on to have a pretty successful hundred issue run through the late 90's and 2000's that was a throwback to early Spider-Man stories, but with a bizarre influx of DeFalco's 90's Spider-Man work.

But enough preamble, let's get to the smiting!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Review: Deathblow #16

Deathblow #16, "Wildstorm Rising Chapter 16," Cover Date May 1995
Written by Steven Seagle, Penciled by Trevor Scott with Mel Rubi and Tom Raney, Inked by Trevor Scott, Rick Maygar, and Tom Rangy

I’ve expressed in the past that it’s more than a little unfair to reduce an entire decade, a decade that produced plenty of exceptional work, to its worst excesses. As easy as it is to mock the Death of Superman or X-Force, I really believe there is plenty of value to be mined reviewing these comics, and that most of the comics I review are worth a closer look.

Deathblow 16 Cover Barry Windsor Smith

And then there’s Deathblow #16, which sounds like a joke every time I write it. And the comic is about as good as you’d expect from the sixteenth issue of a title called “Deathblow.”

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Review: WildC.A.T.s #20

WildC.A.T.s #20, "Wildstorm Rising, Part 2," Cover Date May 1995
Written by James Robinson, Penciled by Travis Charest, Cover by Barry Windsor Smith, Inked by Troy Hubbs

WildC.A.T.s 20 Cover Barry Windsor Smith

It's been awhile since I've added a review here, mostly because I recently moved and start a new job on Monday, but if you want to hear my dulcet tones, remember to check out Your Stupid Minds for our bi-weekly podcast, which goes on regardless of my exciting life changes.

To celebrate my reduced schedule, here is a review of WildC.A.T.S., the poster comic for reduced scheduling! This issue is part 2 of Wildstorm's first company-wide crossover, and I'm sure it won't be an incomprehensible mess from the word "go," right? So let's get to it!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Quasar #18

Quasar #18, "The Bearable Lightness of Being," Cover Date January 1991
Written by Mark Gruenwald, Penciled by Greg Capullo, Inked by Keith Williams

Quasar 18 Cover

One of the traps of writing about a decade of comics is to reduce a huge amount of work to a specific set of common tropes, and to make exceptions for "everything else" that doesn't fit into that narrative of what defines a decade. In reality, 10 years in most any media is a long time that sees more than one trend, and for comics in particular it was a time of rapid change. For Marvel in 1991, they were putting out more books than they ever had, but unlike their expansion later in the decade, there was such a huge new talent pool that Marvel was putting out some legitimately great books, and quite a few more that at the very least had a very talented artist working on them. In late 1990, you had Art Adams penciling Simonson scripts on a classic run of Fantastic Four, Jim Lee working with Claremont on X-Men, Todd McFarlane drawing long, flowing Hobgoblin capes on Spider-Man and Erik Larsen doing his best Steve Ditko impression on Amazing Spider-Man, while on Marvel's "second tier" of sellers you still had newcomer Mark Bagley working on New Warriors, JRJR penciling Iron Man (a natural fit since he didn't have to draw as many faces), Jim Valentino on Guardians of the Galaxy, a young Brian Hitch on Sensational She-Hulk, and Ron Frentz doing great work on Thor. In short, there was actually so much artistic talent that it didn't seem like such a bad idea to have 50 books a month being published. Unfortunately, within 2 years we'd see even more new titles as many of these artists abandoned Marvel to head for Image.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review: Backlash #1

Backlash #1, "Issue Number One," Cover Date November 1994
Written by Sean Ruffner, Jeff Mariotte, and Brett Booth, Penciled by Brett Booth, Inked by four people with an assist from a fifth

Backlash 1 Cover

Backlash is a spin-off character of Stormwatch, one of the earliest outputs from Jim Lee's Wildstorm Universe. Very briefly, Backlash is a three thousand year old alien-human hybrid who is a martial arts master and has various other super powers, and served as a sort of drill sergeant for Stormwatch, Wildstorm's Justice League (their base was an orbiting space station called Skywatch). After almost 20 issues of the "core" title, which was able to meet deadlines in part because Jim Lee stopped doing even covers for the book almost immediately, Backlash got his own book, which would run 32 issues.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Review: Static #10

Static #10, "Mystery Date," Cover Date March 1994
Written by Robert L. Washington III, Pencilled by Brian O'Connell, Inked by Shawn Martinbrough

Static 10 Cover

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review: Darkhawk #35

Darkhawk #35, "Operation: Symbiote, Part 1: The Trap," Cover Date January 1994
Written by Danny Fingeroth, Penciled by Tod Smith, Inked by Ian Akin

Darkhawk 35 Cover Venom

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Retro Review: Avengers #114

Avengers #114, "Night of the Swordsman," Cover Date August 1973
Written by Steve Englehart, Penciled by Bob Brown, Inked by Mike Esposito

Avengers 114 Cover

We go back in time (even more?) from the 90's to discover that Mantis is a mysterious customer right from the start!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Review: Avengers #395

Avengers #395, "Time's End," Cover Date February 1996
Plotted by Bob Harras and Terry Kavannagh, Script by Terry Kavanagh, Penciled by Mike Deodato Jr., Inked by Emir Ribeiro and Mike Deodato

Avengers 395 Cover The Crossing

It's finally here! After 18 parts, a prologue, two foil covered specials, and countless pointless fights against unnamed Anachronauts, The Crossing finally, mercifully reaches its conclusion!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Review: Iron Man #325

Iron Man #325, "Face to Face," Cover Date February 1996
Plot by Terry Kavanagh, Script by Dan Abnett, Penciled by Jimmy Cheung, Jim Calafiore, and Hector Collazo, Inked by 4 guys

Iron Man 325 cover

The rumors of my death have only been slightly exaggerated, as I return from a 2 week travel into the past to bring you Iron Man #325!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review: Avengers Timeslide

Avengers Timeslide, Cover Date February 1996
Story by Bob Harras and Terry Kavanagh, Script by Ben Raab, Pencils by Roger Cruz, Luke Ross, Fabio Laguna, Frank Toscano, Manny Clark, and Oclair Albert, Inks by Scott Koblish and Rene Micheletti

Avengers Timeslide Cover

"The Crossing" wheezes towards its big finale in the second and final $5 chrome covered special of the series, as the Avengers get ready to do the time warp!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Review: Avengers #394

Avengers #394, "Bad Blood," Cover Date January 1996
Plot by Bob Harras and Terry Kavanagh, Script by Ben Raab, Pencils by Mike Deodato, Inks by Tom Palmer

Avengers 394 Cover

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Review: Iron Man #324

Iron Man #324, "So Far to Fall," Cover Date January 1996
Written by Terry Kavanagh and Dan Abnett, Penciled by James Calafiore and Mark Bright, Inked by various, cover by Jim Cheung

Iron Man 324 Cover Cheung

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Review: Silver Sable #21

Silver Sable #21, "Home of the Body Bag," Cover Date February 1994
Written by Gregory Wright, Penciled by Steven Butler, Inked by Pam Eklund

Silver Sable 21 Cover

For those that only have dim memories of Silver Sable, she's the European mercenary that works primarily as a Spider-Man ally across various media. Her serious disposition and willingness to take money for her work put her at odds with Spider-Man, who frequently ends up being tempted by Sable's financial incentives but always ends up turning them down. Because it was the early 90's, Sable was given her own comic, completely separate from Spider-Man (although, not surprisingly, he guest-starred in the very first issue).

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Review: War Machine #22

War Machine #22, "The Last Stand," Cover Date January 1996
Written by Dan Abnett, Penciled by Fred Haynes and Yancey Labat, Inked by Johnny Greene and Jimmy Palmiotti(?!)

War Machine 22 Cover

Where we last the Avengers, Iron Man revealed himself as a pawn of Kang, and has killed Yellowjacket (the Guardian of the Galaxy), Marilla, Luna's nanny, and Amanda Chaney, the PR rep for Force Works. He also blasted Wasp in the face, but it remains to be seen if she'll recover.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review: Force Works #19

Force Works #19, "Time Out of Mind," Cover Date January 1996
Written by Abnett & Lanning, Penciled by Heitor Oliveira, Inked by Rey Garcia

Force Works 19 cover Kang Mantis Iron Man

Last issue of the Crossing I covered, Tony was finally revealed as evil and fought the Avengers, thus clearing Hawkeye's name. Kang was also finally revealed as Mantis's mystery husband! Meanwhile, Force Works is in Vietnam, Tony Stark's crazy ex is somewhere in the arctic, and War Machine, U.S. Agent and Black Widow are on some military base in the southwest. Now that we're all caught up, let's get to the action!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Special Review: Warrior #1

Warrior #1, "Warrior," Cover Date May 1996
Written by Warrior, Penciled and Inked by Jim Callahan

Warrior #1 cover

We interrupt our regularly scheduled comic book reviews to review Warrior #1, in light of Warrior's surprising death this week. As a little background, Warrior had left WWF in November of 1992, and had since legally changed his name to "Warrior," and by 1995 was ready for a lawsuit against WWF for related trademarks and licenses (that he would eventually win). He took some time off from that in order to self-publish the "Warrior" comic, under the "Ultimate Creations" umbrella, at the tail end of the comic book bubble.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Character Spotlight: Bishop

Way back in August, I started up a feature I hoped to do regularly where I'd spotlight a character created in the 1990's. You can read my first entry over here: I'm still taking a brief mental sabbatical before continuing to work through the Crossing, but I figured I'd do another of these.

Presenting BISHOP, the plot device that walks like a man!

Bishop Marvel X-Men 281

Friday, March 21, 2014

Arc Review: The Spider Totem, aka "Coming Home"

J. Michael Straczynski's (hereafter referred to as JMS) run on Amazing Spider-Man is a bit divisive; at the time it was coming out, JMS was a "superstar" writer and his take on the comic was by and large seen as a breath of fresh air. I believe the common view is that his later work on the title is not as good due largely to editorial interference and crossovers with "events" like Civil War. While it's not universally beloved, the Spider-Totem arc made it to spot #13 in CBR's "top 50 greatest Spider-Man stories." In 2009, Marvel began publishing an "Ultimate Collection" of JMS Spider-Man comics; five volumes were published, collecting everything JMS wrote for the book, rather than focus on individual storylines. As a bit of background, I purchased the Amazing Spider-Man DVD some years ago, and have slowly been working my way up through the 70's up until JMS begins his run in 2001. So unlike a reader starting fresh, I came into JMS's run having sat through a truly awful period of comics (and I'm not referring to the Clone Saga, but Howard Mackie and John Byrne's post-Clone Saga relaunch), along with pretty much everything else. Maybe it's this perspective that makes me think that JMS's first story arc is a pretty bad Spider-Man comic.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Review: Avengers #393

Avengers #393, "Dark Days Dawn," Cover Date December 1995
Plot by Bob Harras and Terry Kavanagh, Script by Ben Raab, Pencils by Mike Deodato, Jr., Inks by Tom Palmer

Avengers 393 Cover

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Review: Iron Man #323

Iron Man #323, "Innocent Eyes," Cover Date December 1995
Plot by Terry Kavanagh, Script by Dan Abnett, Pencils by Hector Oliveira, Jim Cheung, and Yancey Labat, Inks by Mark McKenna

Iron Man 323 Cover

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Review: War Machine #21

War Machine #21, "Brothers in Arms," Cover Date December 1995 (mistakenly says '96 on cover)
Written by Dan Abnett, Penciled by Fred Haynes and Sandu Florea, Inked by Greene/Palmiotti/Florea

War Machine 21 Cover

When last we left the mess that is "The Crossing," Mantis, Steve Englehart's pet character from the 70's, returned with a new husband. Iron Man has been having blackouts, but this time they appear to be mind-control, not alcohol black-outs. He's framed Hawkeye for one of his murders and Hawkeye and some of his pals have retreated to an abandoned airstrip to plan their next move!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Review: Badrock #1

Badrock #1, Cover Date March 1995
Plot and pencils by Rob Liefeld, Script by Eric Stephenson, Inks by Jonathan Sibal and Danny Miki

Badrock 1 Gunner Liefeld

Last week I reviewed Angela, the surprisingly good Spawn spin-off about an Angel that does not wear pants. It probably helped that Neil Gaiman was the writer. So in the interest of fairness, here is another Image comic from a few months later, a Badrock spin-off from Rob Liefeld's Extreme! Studios. Like all Liefeld creations, Badrock is a blatant theft of an existing character (Marvel Comics The Thing), but the twist is: he's only 16 years old when he's turned into a granite rock monster guy. Radical!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Review: Angela #1

Angela #1, Cover Date December 1994
Written by Neil Gaiman, Art by Greg Capullo

Angela 1 cover 1994 series

Monday, February 3, 2014

Review: Wonder Woman #80

Wonder Woman #80, "It's Never a Good Day to Die," Cover Date November, 1993
William Messner-Loebs- "chief surgeon," Steve Carr and Deryl Skelton- "residents," Aaron McClellan- "head nurse"

Wonder Woman 80 Cover Bolland

Friday, January 31, 2014

Review: Guy Gardner: Warrior #17

Guy Gardner: Warrior #17, "Warrior Road," cover date February 1994
Written by Chuck Dixon, Penciled by Mitch Byrd, Inked by Dennis Cramer and Dan Davis

Warrior Guy Gardner 17

Monday, January 27, 2014

Review: Force Works #18

Force Works #18, "Welcome to Nowhere," Original Cover Date December, 1995
Written by Abnett & Lanning, Penciled by Yancey Labat, Inked by Rey Garcia

Force Works 18 Cover Moonraker

Monday, January 20, 2014

Review: Iron Man #322

Iron Man #322, "The Darkest Page to Turn," Cover Date November, 1995
Written by Terry Kavanagh,Pencils by Jim Cheung and Sergio Cariello, Inked by Mark McKenna and Hector Collazo

Iron Man 322 Cover

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Generation X Annual 95 #1

Generation X Annual 95 #1, "Of Leather and Lace," Cover Date November 1995
Written by Scott Lobdell and Jeph Loeb, pencils by Ashley Wood and Shawn McManus, Inks by various including Bill Sienkiewicz, cover by Michael Golden

Generation X Annual 95 Cover Golden

We interrupt your regularly scheduled "making fun of Avengers: The Crossing" for a very special crossover event with my sibling blog/podcast, Your Stupid Minds. This week we review Generation X, the TV pilot(?) that has about the same budget and quality as the Fantastic Four film from 1994. To celebrate, I'm reviewing Generation X Annual 95, an issue that came out the same month as the Crossing, over in the X-verse.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Review: Avengers #392

Avengers #392, "The Past is With Us Always...", Cover Date November, 1995
Written by Bob Harras and Terry Kavanagh, Pencils by M.C. Wyman, Inks by Tom Palmer

Avengers 392 Cover

It seems like forever since I've checked in with the Avengers during this Avengers crossover. Just so we're caught up: Iron Man murdered two people, but apparently doesn't remember doing it. He found the records, but seems to have forgotten them, and the next thing anybody knew, surveillance footage was changed to be of Hawkeye. Hawkeye was brought in by Force Works, presumably for questioning, but U.S. Agent and War Machine broke him out of Force Works headquarters before anything was resolved. There's also a mystery door in Avengers Mansion that a guy named "Neut" came out of, stabbing forgotten Avenger Gilgamesh. And now we're all caught up!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Review: War Machine #20

War Machine #20, "A Little Muscle," Cover Date October, 1995
Written by Dan Abnett, Pencils by Fred Haynes, Inks by Johnny Greene

War Machine 20 Cover