Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Review- AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: WORLDWIDE VOL. 2




AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: WORLDWIDE VOL. 2 (Marvel, First Printing, 2016; Softcover)

Collects Amazing Spider-Man #6-11 (cover dates March- June, 2016)

Writer: Dan Slott

Artists: Matteo Buffagni, Giuseppe Camuncoli, and Cam Smith

Colorists: Marte Gracia

I borrowed this book from my local library.

The Peter Parker as CEO angle is still highly annoying. Imagine, if you will, a kid who is a fan of the movies and decides to start reading Spider-Man comics. A kid who, against all odds of finding a comic shop unless he happens to live in an area that even has one, has parents who will give him four or five bucks to buy a comic instead of a Fortnite app. That mythical kid wouldn't even recognize what is going on here. Cue snarky fanboys (term used in the original pejorative) who say that kids don't read comics and that you (meaning me) can't accept change. The problem is not with the character, it is with the writer or fans who are so bored with the character that they will accept any change willy-nilly under the illusion of character development.

As clunky as the Peter Parker personal life angle is here, the bits where he is Spider-Man work for the most part. I enjoyed seeing the return of Mister Negative. While I am not a fan of the Ultimate Universe Samuel L. Jackson Nick Fury being in the main Marvel Universe, I am willing to let it go for the sake of the mythical kid who is just starting to read comics. To the civilian population, that is Nick Fury. Make mine Steranko, though.



The outer space satellite battle, coupled with Spider-Man making reentry with his Spider-armor, was among the dumbest things that I have ever read in a Spider-Man comic. I have a healthy suspension of disbelief but this was just stupid. I also can't say that I care for Mockingbird being shoehorned in as a sort of Spider-Man sidekick. It doesn't work.

On the flipside, there are some interesting subplots a-brewing. Dead and defunct villains like The Rhino, Electro, and The Lizard are reappearing behind the scenes. The superpowered hero(?) Regent is seen again. It has been revealed that Doctor Octopus' consciousness has been downloaded into The Living Brain.



So I'll keep reading since these developments are interesting, and because I don't have to pay for them since I checked them out of the library.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 2.75 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This is the part where I go into tactile sensations and materials used in physical media. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or women who are pregnant should exit my blog at their earliest convenience, as their safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point.

Library copies are fascinating studies in the durability of these books. I look at them like science experiments, as the average human handles their books like the Samsonite Gorilla when compared to how I handle my books.

Paper stock: Fair weight coated stock with a glossy sheen.

Binding: Perfect bound paperback.

Cardstock cover notes: Laminated cardstock cover.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Review- AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: WORLDWIDE VOL. 1




AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: WORLDWIDE VOL. 1 (Marvel, First Printing, 2017; Softcover)

Collects Amazing Spider-Man #1-5 (cover dates December, 2015- February, 2016)

Writers: Dan Slott with Christos Gage (#5) and back-up stories from #1 by Robbie Thompson, Dennis Hopeless, and Anthony Holden

Artists: Giuseppe Camuncoli and Cam Smith with back-up stories from #1 by Stacey Lee, Paco Diaz, Javier Rodriguez, and Anthony Holden

Colorists: Marte Gracia with back-up stories from #1 by Ian Herring, Javier Rodriguez, Israel Silva, and Jordie Bellaire

I borrowed this book from my local library.

I bowed out after Slott ruined Spider-Man with ASM #700, although I did read some of the post-Superior Spider-Man stuff from the library. My library has all seven Worldwide trades, so I checked them out. Spider-Man is my all-time favorite character but I cannot financially support what Dan Slott has done to him.

Slott sucks, but the artwork is pretty good in this book.

Peter Parker is now a wildly successful CEO a la Tony Stark? My god Dan Slott sucks. Slott writes Peter Parker's long-winded Kumbaya make the world a better place instead of making money spiel a chore to sit through. I am glad that I borrowed this from the library instead of spending my money on it. If you support Slott then the terrorists win, or something like that.

Peter Parker is supposed to be the everyman. That is his hook and his universal appeal from day one, and as evidenced by the movies and cartoons it still works to this day. When he married Mary Jane Watson, who at the time was a supermodel, it was a shift that made him less relatable to many readers. Making him a CEO and having everything going right for him seems incredibly wrong, as even fewer people can relate to that. Slott fumbles the ball yet again.



Slott has turned Spider-Man into a corporate espionage, hacking tech-heavy pile of crap. I read this book as fan fiction peppered with moments that were somewhat enjoyable. I enjoy the Zodiac, and it was neat seeing Spider-Man and The Prowler tangle with them. Slott has since been booted off the title and put on Iron Man, which makes sense because his writing here shows that he is bored and doesn't know what else to do with the character.

My son made me this for Father's Day. He loves Spider-Man as well. This will hang on my refrigerator until I die. 


I dislike that Nick Fury is now the Ultimate Universe Samuel L. Jackson version. I get it that to the “civilians” that Samuel L. Jackson IS Nick Fury, but this is not the case with the comics. I'll have to let that one go I suppose. I also disliked how every single formerly dead supporting cast member is back among the living. Maybe it was that Mephisto thing, maybe it was some other ret-con like the second or third Secret Wars crossover? I don't have a clue. Marvel's continuity has gone down the crapper and is as bad as DC's these days. I found Regent intriguing enough to continue reading the second volume from the library. Comics are more fun to read when you don't pay for them.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This is the part where I go into tactile sensations and materials used in physical media. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or women who are pregnant should exit my blog at their earliest convenience, as their safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point.

Library copies are fascinating studies in the durability of these books. I look at them like science experiments, as the average human handles their books like the Samsonite Gorilla when compared to how I handle my books.

Paper stock: Fair weight coated stock with a glossy sheen.

Binding: Perfect bound paperback.

Cardstock cover notes: Laminated cardstock cover.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Review- TALES OF THE BATMAN: LEN WEIN




TALES OF THE BATMAN: LEN WEIN (DC, First Printing, 2014; Hardcover)

Collects Detective Comics #408, 444-448, 466, 478, 479, 500, 514, Batman #255, 307-310, 312-319, 321-324, 326, 327, World's Finest Comics #207, The Untold Legend Of Batman #1-3, DC Retroactive: Batman- The '70s #1, and a story from Batman: Black And White #5 (cover dates February, 1971- March, 2014)

Writer: Len Wein

Artists: Pencilers- Neal Adams, Dick Dillin, Jim Aparo*, Ernie Chua, Marshall Rogers, John Calnan, Irv Novick*, Walt Simonson*, Don Newton, Tom Mandrake*, and Victor Ibanez*; Inkers*- Dick Giordano, Joe Giella, Vince Colletta, Frank McLaughlin, Bob Smith, John Byrne, Frank Chiaramonte, and all artists denoted with an * above



Len Wein is one of the greatest writers of the '70s and early '80s and is responsible for so many long lasting characters. Wolverine, Swamp Thing, the X-Men as you know and love them? Wein had a hand in their creation. He has an understanding and deep love for the flagship characters as well. He sadly passed away last fall but his work will live on in the hearts and minds of comic fans everywhere.



The bulk of this book is from 1975-1980, which is prime Bronze Age material that I have never read before. Wein had the good fortune of being paired with some top notch talent like Neal Adams, Jim Aparo, etc. It's a shame how DC has allowed Neal Adams to destroy classic comics like Detective Comics #408, the same re-inked and recolored version found in the Batman By Neal Adams hardcovers and trades. The bastardized version of Batman #255 is included. It's a pity, because it is a fantastic story about Anthony Lupus, a man who is afflicted with Lycanthropy. He goes to see Professor Milo, a certifiable quack who brings his condition to the fore. It's probably one of the best comics of the '70s, completely ruined with the now totally outdated Photoshop and at the time modern computer recoloring from 15 years ago. This George Lucas Star Wars Special Edition thinking was well-intentioned but ultimately doesn't work.

The Jim Aparo issues are equally excellent, with Aparo being almost as good as Neal Adams. He may not have had the inventive panel layouts but his storytelling ability and sense of pacing were equally great.



Len Wein was great at keeping the continuity flowing. While each issue was a complete story there were enough dangling subplots to give returning readers something to look forward to month in and month out. There were very few writers who could successfully pull this trick off, and Wein was one of the best.

Detective Comics #478 is a sentimental favorite of mine. My mom bought it for me as a kid while we were on vacation in northern Michigan during the summer of 1978. It was some weird convenience store in the middle of nowhere that's probably long gone. I am guessing that the whole area is now populated with Starbucks and Walmarts, but back in the late 70s it was “up north” and rural.



Batman had some great Christmas stories. While nobody does Christmas issues anymore for fear of offending anyone, this was not the case back in 1978 when Batman #309 was released. Batman #310 is what really got me, though. I'm a sucker for the Gentleman Ghost, with my first exposure to the character on the SuperFriends cartoons back in the '70s as Gentleman Jim. I love how Wein paints Jim as a ghost but Batman isn't having it. Batman tries to come up with a rational explanation for how he pulls off his capers. Wein had a really good grasp on the character Two-Face. Batman #313 and 314 were among the better Two-Face stories that I've read.

Lucius Fox is featured throughout these issues. Fans of The Dark Knight trilogy will know him as the character that Morgan Freeman portrayed on the screen. Firebug is an interesting character who was motivated by the same kind of grief that Batman was. In his introduction in Batman #318 he wanted to burn down unsafe apartment buildings because those same slumlord apartment buildings killed his family. Wein humanized the villain, a rarity at the time.

We see the Gentleman Ghost return for a rematch and Batman #319. He's such a great villain. Sorry to gush, but I have been a sucker for him since the SuperFriends cartoons were a part of my Saturday mornings in the '70s. Batman #327 was another standout issue. Wein brought Professor Milo back, who was running Arkham Asylum in a somewhat offbeat Silver Age-flavored story.



The Untold Legend Of The Batman mini series was great. The first issue had art by the team of John Byrne and Jim Aparo, which was mindblowingly great. Among my favorites in the book was Detective Comics #514, a story about human nature and why it's best to sometimes leave people alone.

I'm sorry to ramble on and on about this book, but it was so great that I cannot help myself. While this package leaves something to be desired (please refer to The OCD zone below), you get 600+ pages of top notch Batman stories by a writer whose likes we will never be seen again.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This is the part where I go into tactile sensations and materials used in physical media. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or women who are pregnant should exit my blog at their earliest convenience, as their safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point.

Linework and Color restoration: This book is all over the place, from abysmal (the Marshall Rogers issues which were repurposed from his artist-centric hardcover), blasphemous (the Neal Adams “commissions”), to serviceable (much of the book). DC never revisits and remasters material when given an opportunity to do so, so unfortunately these lackluster restorations are it for the ages.

Original comic.

Restoration done for the 1999 BATMAN: STRANGE APPARITIONS trade paperback.


Restoration done for LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT: MARSHALL ROGERS hardcover which was used in this book as well.
DC often leaves a lot to be desired in terms of restoration. 

Paper stock: Bright white glossy coated stock. While this is better than the toilet paper they were passing off on folks, the light glare is too harsh for material with flat coloring. I find it best to read this stock in natural sunlight for minimal glare.

Binding: Perfect bound (read: glued). Glued binding on a supposedly high end hardcover is something of a joke. As far as glued bindings go, this one isn't too bad, especially with a page count of over 600 pages. It lays reasonably flat for much of the book.

Dustjacket and Hardback cover notes: Laminated dustjacket with the same cheap boards and chintzy casewrap that DC has been passing off on folks for years.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Review- KILL OR BE KILLED VOL. 2




KILL OR BE KILLED VOL. 2 (Image, First Printing, 2017; Softcover)

Collects Kill Or Be Killed #5-10 (cover dates January- July, 2017)

Writer: Ed Brubaker

Artist: Sean Phillips

Colorist: Elizabeth Breitweiser

I borrowed this book from my local library.



Things have begun to spiral out of control for Dylan. First, the demon that he is serving by killing one person per month is mocking him. Then we see the entrance of Lily Sharpe, a rookie detective who is the only one to accurately piece together the puzzle. And then we have his personal relationships going from good to bad and bad to worse, respectively.



Without getting too spoilerish, this is being played right down the middle. Is it a demon driving Dylan or is Dylan just a nut who is off of his psychotropic meds? I have an idea but I am not saying. I need to read Volume 3 stat.



Brubaker's writing is top notch, Phillips is doing the best artwork of his career, and Breitweiser is one of the greatest colorists that I have ever seen. These are some great comic books from the “middlebrow” segment of the medium.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This is the part where I go into tactile sensations and materials used in physical media. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or women who are pregnant should exit my blog at their earliest convenience, as their safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point.

This is a copy that I borrowed from the library. Library copies are fascinating studies in workmanship and durability.

The covers are collected in the back of the book, a major pet peeve of mine. While there is a blank red page which serves as a chapter marker for each issue, I dislike it when the covers aren't placed before the issues.

Paper stock: Matte coated stock with minimal sheen. This is some fantastic paper. Readers of digital comics scoff at collected edition snobs like myself, but I am like a vinyl and CD music fan. The tangible physical object makes it more real to me. I love paper.

Binding: Perfect bound paperback.

Cardstock cover notes: Matte coating on the cardstock which is remarkably resistant to scuffing. Image makes quality books these days, and I'm not just referring to the content.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Review- KILL OR BE KILLED VOL. 1



KILL OR BE KILLED VOL. 1 (Image, First Printing, 2017; Softcover)

Collects Kill Or Be Killed #1-4 (cover dates August- November, 2016)

Writer: Ed Brubaker

Artist: Sean Phillips

Colorist: Elizabeth Breitweiser

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Dylan is a loser. Dylan is a 28-year old grad student and suicidal failure. Dylan lives with his friend who ended up in a relationship with his longtime female friend that he's had a thing for. Nothing in Dylan's life is very worthwhile, at least in his mind, so he does what any self-absorbed loser would do. He kills himself by jumping off of the roof of a building.



Being a loser means that Dylan can't even kill himself right, as he gets caught up on a blanket on a clothesline, breaking his fall of six flights as he is further cushioned by a pile of snow. Dylan thinks he's really lucky until woken during his sleep by a demon. The demon tells him that he owes him a life every month since he gave Dylan a second chance. Someone who deserves to be killed, like a childhood friend's older brother whom he remembers molesting his friend due to the conversations they had during childhood which made sense later on. Or Russian mobsters who run some kind of stripper human trafficking thing.

As Dylan starts killing people he discovers some truths about himself, and we discover a few truths about him that he doesn't realize. The last page of the book is a real jaw dropper which turns the whole thing on its head.



Brubaker and Phillips have continually refined their craft. Criminal was better than Sleeper, and Incognito was better than Criminal. All of those were buried by Fatale. Every time that I think they have peaked they top their previous peak. Elizabeth Breitweiser is one of the top colorists in the biz today. She's their secret weapon, adding layers and mood to the artwork. I'm so blown away by this book that I am going to buy it and add yet another book to my collection.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This is the part where I go into tactile sensations and materials used in physical media. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or women who are pregnant should exit my blog at their earliest convenience, as their safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point.

This is a copy that I borrowed from the library. Library copies are fascinating studies in workmanship and durability.

The covers are collected in the back of the book, a major pet peeve of mine. While there is a blank red page which serves as a chapter marker for each issue, I dislike it when the covers aren't placed before the issues.

Paper stock: Matte coated stock with minimal sheen. This is some fantastic paper. Readers of digital comics scoff at collected edition snobs like myself, but I am like a vinyl and CD music fan. The tangible physical object makes it more real to me. I love paper.

Binding: Perfect bound paperback.

Cardstock cover notes: Matte coating on the cardstock which is remarkably resistant to scuffing. Image makes quality books these days, and I'm not just referring to the content.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Review- John Carpenter's Tales Of Science Fiction: Vortex #1-8




John Carpenter's Tales Of Science Fiction: Vortex #1-8 (Storm King, cover dates October, 2017- May, 2018)

Writers: John Carpenter, Sandy King, and Mike Sizemore

Artist: David Kennedy (also Colorist for #1)

Colorist: Pete Kennedy (#2-8)

Asteroid Garm. The Veil Nebula. 1,470 light years from Earth. This is the setting of the second John Carpenter Science Fiction anthology series. Vortex is a hybrid of his adaptation of The Thing with an Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers backdrop. We have managed to build a portal to this far flung solar system and have a team that are on a mining expedition. A follow up crew is sent to check out why they haven't heard back from the team. By this point everyone should know that A) something is wrong and B) we are not alone.



I'm not going into a blow by blow, nor will I spoil the series. What I will say is that there is something in issue 7 that leads me to believe that the invasive species is not contained. Also, the ending of the series is filled with as many questions and answers. It's not the greatest ending in this manner (that honor belongs to The Thing), but it works and is satisfying.



My takeaway from this series is that maybe we shouldn't venture too far out into space. When Europeans came to the Americas they brought rats with them. Invasive species have become the norm with the global economy, with Asian carp invading the Great Lakes, etc. Vortex shows us that we are, at best, the invasive species in outer space. Or maybe if we went to the farther reaches we would find something and give it a ride back. Maybe we've already done that and that's why we have an increase in obesity and cancer. This is of course not the case, but the mind boggles when spinning possible scenarios.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.75 out of 5.

The OCD zone- I find it interesting that there are no advertisements in Storm King Comics. The last few pages of the book are roughed out sneak preview pages for the next issue and/or character sketches and a house ad for other Storm King books. This is commercial free comics, although no one could fault them if they did have ads. It's worth noting that there are not ads in these comic books since everyone other company has them.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Review- JUPITER'S LEGACY VOL. 2




JUPITER'S LEGACY VOL. 2 (Image, First Printing, 2017; Softcover)

Collects Jupiter's Legacy Vol. 2 #1-5 (cover dates June, 2016- July, 2017)

Writer: Mark Millar

Artists: Frank Quitely and Rob Miller

Colorists: Sunny Gho



Give a person everything that they want, and what will they want? A little more. Brandon finds this lesson out the hard way. Even if you give people everything that you think that they want, it still doesn't make them happy because you never know what really makes other people happy.

I'm being deliberately vague with this review, as nobody likes spoilers. Fandom tends to disagree on the shelf life of a spoiler, but I'm of the mindset that I don't want to be the guy to spoil it for you, so I try to not do them. Your mileage may vary.



The tide turns, the moving parts that make up life slide into a new tongue and groove, and the circle is complete. Everything old is new again. It's taken four books to make the point (two volumes each of Jupiter's Legacy and Jupiter's Circle), but the payoff is clear. That is, unless Jupiter's Requiem, coming in 2019, smashes the whole thing to bits. I don't care either way, I just want to learn about the aliens for chrissakes.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This is the part where I go into tactile sensations and materials of physical media. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or women who are pregnant should exit my blog at their earliest convenience, as their safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point.

Paper stock: Medium weight coated stock with a slight sheen, closer to glossy paper than matte.

Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.

Cardstock cover notes: Laminated cardstock cover.