Comic books and graphic novels


Rex Royd Revels in Radical Restructuring of Reality

Imagine if Lex Luthor was about a million times smarter, and his avowed enemy wasn't Superman, but the reality that created Superman in the first place.

That's (maybe) the plot of REX ROYD, a disjointed collection of mind-f*cks from the mind of Frankie Boyle and Jim Muir. 

Rex is a businessman, CEO of Rexcorp. What the company does is hard to say, There's an indestructible superbeing who helps him, an unnamed British agent with a license to kill, and Eve -- the biblical Eve

The ostensible target is Proteoman -- the book's analog for Superman. Thing is, seems he dies a couple of different times in the book. And as for truth and justice, he seems to just fight because he exists.


NCBD Pull or No Pull: October 3, 2018

Rainbow Brite

You're a comics fan. You've probably got a local comics shop, and a local comics shop guy who looks out for your interests. You've left him with a pull list, so you know when you get to the store the things you want to read will be already picked off the shelves for you.

But that doesn't mean you didn't miss something. Here are our looks at this week's upcoming comics, and our hot takes on whether they're a pick or a pan. Your mileage may vary.

Batman / Maxx (IDW)

It's the first appearance of The Maxx in over ten years, and he's going to face off against the Dark Knight. They'll have to team up to save Gotham and reality by traversing the mental landscape of all of Batman's most psychotic enemies.


Stranger Things Makes for Stranger Comics

Stranger Things issue 1

Okay, this is not going to sit well with my readers, but I have never watched a single episode of STRANGER THINGS.

I know, I know. Me and some guy in Alaska without electricity, we're the only ones.

So I thought I could at least get a flavor of the show through this new comic book debut from Dark Horse, penned by Jody Houser and illustrated by Stefano Martino and Keith Champagne. And after having read it, I can at least admit that the story is properly titled: STRANGER THINGS than this I've not seen.

The story follows young Will Byers, who has gone missing from his hometown of Hawkins, Indiana. But he's still in Hawkins -- or rather a mirror version of it, in a dark place called the Upside Down, where he's all alone except for some monstrous creatures.


This Year's Halloween Comics Begin Hitting Shelves with Broadsword's Tarot, Witch of the Black Rose 112

Tarot Witch of the Black Rose 112

Last Halloween, Tarot, her husband, and her sister encountered the Spirit of Halloween in a park in Salem. Ever since that time, they have been cursed to appear as the stereotypes of their characters -- i.e. green-skinned witches, and a living skeleton man.

Now, in TAROT, WITCH OF THE BLACK ROSE #112, the season is upon them once more, and the three, along with their mother, plan to seek out the spirit and entreat him to return them to their original forms. But it's not going to be that easy. The spirit agrees to do so -- if he can be defeated in a game of monsters, taking place on another plane. And if he cannot -- then the entire population of Salem is to be his forever.

Tarot and company agree...and don't do so well. But this is the season of tricks and treats, and a wily opponent knows how to use both of those to her advantage.


Deconstructing the Doomsday Clock #7

Doomsday Clock #7

Having crossed the halfway point of this 12-issue crossover between the DC Universe and the world of the WATCHMEN, we finally get to a place where we get answers. What has Doctor Manhattan been up to all these years, what is Ozymandias ultimate plan, and, of course...

Whatever Happened to the Justice Society of America?

Johnny Thunder has been convinced that he had a genie at his command once upon a time. So why does nobody remember him? Why does nobody remember Alan Scott, the Green Lantern of the Golden Age, and the rest of the age of heroes that followed him?

The answer is pretty simple: Doctor Manhattan altered the events.


Heroes in Crisis: No Crisis Ever Ends Well For...

Heroes in Crisis #1

One thing about Tom King that I've noticed: He loves writing for the 3-by-3 grid. You'll see that frequently in HEROES IN CRISIS #1, the latest so-called crisis to hit the DC Universe, and the first to hit it since the promise of an optimistic restart that came with REBIRTH.

Something else came with REBIRTH as well besides optimism, and both are dead after this issue.

The main narrative of the story follows Booster Gold and Harley Quinn, who meet out in the middle of flyover country, have some pie and coffee, then end up in a bloody battle. I will say that Harley is written wonderfully nutty here -- not the non-sequitur, fourth-wall-breaking whacky that we see in SUICIDE SQUAD, but someone who is psychotically out there, but with a sympathetic side. And Booster Gold is written, in foil, as normal and plain as can be imagined.


Top Comic Book Artist Admits He "Doesn't Read Comic Books"

In a shocking revelation, during a harmless exchange on Twitter, top comic book artist Brett Booth admitted that he doesn't read comic books "anymore".

Known for his stellar work on THE FLASH comic books, Booth is often seen on Twitter interacting with his fans and discussing, among other things, his passion for dinosaur's. Many professionals in their field often keep tabs on what's happening among their competition or creators they support. So it comes as a surprise for someone who has been around as long as Brett Booth to have abandoned the medium that he's well known for being a part of.


Batman: Damned Sells on Controversy, Not Story

Batman Damned #1

BATMAN: DAMNED #1. It's the first book from DC's "Black Label" imprint. It's the book with the singular event everyone's talking about. It's the book that's trending on eBay because of a singular, unimportant image.

It's not the book that's selling because people are talking about the story. That's possibly because the story is dense, hard to follow, and nonsequential in its telling. So let's go there.


Wolverine is Dead No More, and Nobody is Surprised

Return of Wolverine 1

It's a toss-up as to which Marvel "hero" has the largest body count -- The Punisher or Wolverine. But I do remember way back when Wolverine finally got his own series, some few years after the Frank Miller miniseries, that the body count was what helped sell the title. The promo poster even showed Logan -- man without a past -- standing atop a pile of bodies, claws extended and ready for more.

So it's not much of a surprise that this is what people in the Marvel Universe would know him for -- being a killing machine. But Charles Soule puts a different spin on those perspectives, with not one but two ordinary people trying to remind this new Logan that he's seen as a hero.

Yeah, I said "new Logan." I'll get to that in a minute.


Grandpa Darkseid? Mister Miracle's on the Verge of a Whole New World!

Mister Miracle 11

It's been a surreal journey, and it's about to come to an end -- or to a whole new beginning in Tom King and Mitch Gerads' unconventional take on Mister Miracle, Big Barda, and the rest of Jack Kirby's Fourth World pantheon of New Gods.

Scott Free -- the titular Mister Miracle -- is the new Highfather. And, in keeping with the family tradition, he must make a sacrifice to make peace with Darkseid. When Scott was a boy, his father gave him to Darkseid in exchange for Darkseid's son, an exchange that was meant to keep the peace between New Genesis and Apokolips. Now that Scott and Barda have a son of their own, Jacob, they find themselves in the same boat, forced to give up their child to Darkseid.

So they prepare him -- and a vegetable tray -- to go meet the boy's grandfather and negotiate the peace. 

But Mister Miracle is an escape artist, after all, and he's got a plan.

Too bad for him it's a total failure. Perhaps Plan B might have better luck.


Suicide Squad Loses Another in the Sink Atlantis Finale

Aquaman 40

Task Force X has been sent to Atlantis, recently risen from the ocean floor, to nuke it back to the sea bottom. Or have they?

It certainly seems that way, as Lord Satanus and Master Jailer break into the chamber of magical treasures of Atlantis, being the best place to detonate the bomb. But the rest of the Suicide Squad has decided this isn't the best move, orders from Amanda Waller be damned, and they're trying to break through the barriers that separate them so they can stop the explosion. And, hey, because this is Aquaman's book (AQUAMAN #40), he even gets a few lines in, as well as some fighting.

What ensues is some Harley Quinn fourth-wall randomness, a game of "Bomb, Bomb, Who's Got The Bomb?" and some quick grief therapy for Killer Croc who's gone completely nihilistic with the loss of The Enchantress. Oh yeah, and Harley has a secret sub-mission that she just remembered.


Dark Nights: Metal Still Reverberates Through Justice League #8

Justice League 8

The DC Universe is still exploring -- in JUSTICE LEAGUE -- the great cosmic odyssey that began with the destruction of the Source Wall, releasing unfathomable energy into the multiverse. It could be the end of everything, the beginning of something new...or it may just be a frustrating plot device to keep readers wondering.

Lex Luthor has been hard at work to unlock this secret, embodied in an energy source called The Totality. He's been traveling through time, using magic, and imprisoning a demonic Dark Multiverse maniac version of Batman himself -- the Batman Who Laughs, introduced in the DARK NIGHTS: METAL series. This Batman holds the answers Luthor seeks, but those answers come at a cost, one that Luthor is happy to pay.


Marvel Rising: Omega Cements New Young Marvel Team

Marvel Rising Omega 1

Here's what I take away from MARVEL RISING: OMEGA #1: There's going to be a cartoon series, and this comic evidently is the seed planted in the hope of germinating into viewer interest. This explains the more animated style of art taken by Georges Duarte and Roberto Di Salvo, as the panels definitely look like they're promoting a cartoon show.

As for the story itself, I have a handful of misgivings. What we have here are three of the characters seen on the cover -- Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel, and America Chavez -- as well as two more Inhumans teamed up to fight one of the X-Men's most annoying villains -- Arcade. It's another Terror Trap designed for the mighty mutants, which is now being beta tested by our fledgling not-yet-a-team of plucky young fighters for justice


Archie Goes Back to 1941, But Not Back to Humor

Archie 1941 #1

The Archie contingent of my collection has been growing significantly in the past few years -- not because of RIVERDALE or the new take on the Archie Comics characters, but because I have a ten-year-old comics reader who loves the classic stuff. We have shelves of Archie digests picked up at Wal-mart and Half Price Books, as well as some hardcover collections from various eras. One of those collects stories from the 1940s, when Chick (as Archie was called in his first appearance) first met Betty as she moved in next door. The later stories involved Betty and Veronica organizing dances for soldiers, as well as other references to the ongoing war effort. 


Batman Goes Back to Solving Crimes in Detective 988

Detective 988

Nobody is dealing all that well with the way the Batman / Catwoman wedding went -- or, rather, didn't -- particularly Batman himself. In typical Batman fashion, whenever something traumatic happens to him, he buries himself in his work.

Now, normally, this would mean a trail of busted jaws and broken ribs stretching across the length and breadth of Gotham City, lasting until someone finally beats some sense into him. This time is different, however. As he relates to Commissioner Gordon at the scene of what seems a mundane murder, "Lately I may have gotten over my head. I need to reset. Bottom line, this is a mystery and I'm a detective."


The #ComicsGate Thing

The #ComicsGate Thing by Troy Riser

(What is this ComicsGate thing you keep hearing about? To some, it's a hate group, symbolizing old white guys whining about comics turning into political agitprop for social agendas. To others, it's a movement of fans who just want to read good comics again without having to endure stories where the writer's personal ideologies and philosophies have been shoe-horned into their favorite character's makeup.

It's a pretty big thing, and it's a pretty volatile one as well, with some comics professionals (so-called) making threats of violence (or at the very least wistful wishes of agonizing death and disease) against anyone who dares to align themselves with the movement.


Butt Seriously, Folks: Vertigo’s Robbi Rodriguez Bottoms Out

Rodriguez and Van Sciver

Some people talk through their ass. And then there are those who surpass the metaphor.

Case in point: Robbi Rodriguez, formerly of SPIDER-GWEN and newly appointed illustrator to Zoe Quinn’s Vertigo title, GODDESS MODE. In a moment of drunkenness poor decision making, Rodriguez decided to send a message to fellow comics professional, Ethan Van Sciver, involving an image of his opened gluteus maximus.


The Longbox Short-List - Week of August 22, 2018

Welcome back to Critical Blast’s long-running weekly look at what new comics you should check out each week.   Just a warning, I make these picks pretty much a week BEFORE I actually get to read any of these comics, so if something is a stinker, I take no blame on that.  Let's get to it!

Comics shipping this week

Sorry for the brief column this week, but I am just getting back from vacation and dealing with a severe injury. Hopefully will be back to normal next week,


The World's Greatest Comic Magazine Relaunches. In a Word: Fantastic!

Fantastic Four 1 2018

I'll be honest with you, dear readers. I don't read that much Marvel. I love the characters, I've seen all the movies (even the Nicholas Hammond Spider-man films and the Roger Corman Fantastic Four!), I know the origins -- and I used to read a lot more of them, back in the 70s and 80s. But these days, reading the Marvel line seems less like an escape and more like a chore, what with all the Spider-men, X-People, and Avenger teams, all coming from different universes and timelines.

But a number one issue relaunch of a book we haven't seen for a little while, that's enough of an event to convince me to take a peek under the covers and see what's what. Which is how I ended up with one of the many variant covers of FANTASTIC FOUR #1 by Dan Slott and Sara Pichelli.

In a word? It's fantastic!


Suicide Squad Sent to Sink Sea King's Sovereign State

Suicide Squad 45

SUICIDE SQUAD #45 kicks off the adventure that will cross over with AQUAMAN. Following the events of DARK NIGHTS: METAL, there's been a little bit of fallout, the most globally noticeable being the arrival of a new continent in the Atlantic Ocean between the United States and Europe: from the murky depths of the sea, Atlantis has risen once more, triggered by a thought from Aquaman and creating unrest all across the world. 

And when there's unrest, there's bound to be a small-minded musclehead with a modicum of power who knows better than the rest of us and decides to "fix" things. In this case, it's Admiral Meddinghouse, who sees the arrival of the new continent -- an arrival that triggered tidal waves off the eastern seaboard -- as nothing less than an act of war. So he calls in his chips with Amanda Waller to have Task Force X sent in via submarine to meet up with an Atlantean contingent who also feel that the fabled city should remain under the sea.


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