Friday, February 15, 2019

Review- PLANET OF THE APES: URSUS


PLANET OF THE APES: URSUS (Boom, First Printing, 2018; Softcover)

Collects Planet of the Apes: Ursus #1-6 (cover dates January- June, 2018)

Writer: David F. Walker

Artists: Chris Mooneyham (#1-3) and Lalit Kumar Sharma (#4-6)

Colorist: Jason Wordie


General Ursus is featured prominently in the original Planet Of The Apes movie as well as the sequel, Beneath The Planet Of The Apes. Identified by his bulbous helmet, he is the leader of the gorilla army and always at odds with the orangutans. This is his story, with the events of the first two films as seen through his lens. The all too familiar proceedings wind up being little more than a backdrop to his motivations as a character.

The biggest problem with the story of General Ursus is the same problem you have when you go into the backstory of any iconic character. Be it Michael Myers, Freddie Kreuger, etc, once you have to fill in some blanks you ultimately have to somehow humanize them in order to make them relatable to the reader. This robs the villain of his or her ability to scare the reader (or viewer). Ursus is the gorilla who famously said “The only good human...is a dead human!” and “The only thing that counts in the end is power! Naked, merciless force!” Do those sound like the words of a gorilla who misses his late wife? This borders on being fan fiction, catering to folks so bored with repeated viewings and readings that we have to insert filler into a character to amuse themselves.


I have loved every single Apes series by BOOM that I have read until now. While I've avoided the crossovers (I have no desire to POTA commingle with, say, Star Trek, Tarzan, etc) the rest have been winners. While this wasn't a bad read it fell below the high benchmark which BOOM has set with these comics over the past eight years. The artwork in this series is the weakest in the line yet. Consider this to be a hiccup in an otherwise successful line of comics.
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.

Paper stock: Glossy coated stock.

Binding: Sewn binding glued into a cardstock cover.

Cardstock cover notes: Matte coating resistant to scuffing.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Review- TWO-FISTED TALES ANNUAL VOL. 1


TWO-FISTED TALES ANNUAL VOL. 1 (Gemstone,1994; Squarebound periodical)

Collects Two-Fisted Tales #18-22 (cover dates November/December, 1950- July/August, 1951)

Writers: Harvey Kurtzman, Al Feldstein, Wally Wood, and Johnny Craig

Artists: Harvey Kurtzman, Al Feldstein, Wally Wood, Johnny Craig, John Severin, Will Elder, Jack Davis, and Alex Toth


These red-blooded, he-man stories take place during different eras. You get pirates, Roman Empire, WWI stories and more, although most of the stories center around modern warfare. This was a most timely series, as we entered the Korean War only a few months before the first issue was released.

Take a glance at the credits above...it's a veritable who's who of Golden Age legends under one roof. I enjoyed every story in this book but my favorite was #22's Chicken! We have all encountered bullies in our lives, from school, work, etc., and every single one of them is a true coward at heart. It's amazing how the cues of abuse from bullies gets passed on like a baton. It was nice to see a bully get theirs at the end in this story.


Like all EC Comics, the writing and artwork are top notch. I read EC's at my leisure, content in the knowledge that whenever I crack one open I know that I'm getting into the good stuff.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 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: Bill Gaines kept meticulous copies of the original artwork. The color palette is faithful to the original comic books, unlike the EC Archives line.

Paper stock: Standard mando paper of the day. While it is a quarter century old it has surprisingly maintained the off white creamy color. The blacks look weak, the result of the early water-based inks used in the flexograph printing process of the day. My other gripe is that the paper is tissue paper thin. Those accustomed to high end collected editions would be aghast at this authentic comic book paper.

Binding: Perfect bound.

Cover notes: This is not a trade paperback in the traditional sense of the word, since the first few EC Annuals used a super thick glossy comic cover as opposed to the cardstock that would be used for the majority of the line.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Review- BATMAN: THE COURT OF OWLS SAGA ESSENTIAL EDITION



BATMAN: THE COURT OF OWLS SAGA ESSENTIAL EDITION (DC, First Printing, 2018; Softcover)

Collects Batman #1-11 (cover dates November, 2011- September, 2012)

Writers: Scott Snyder with James Tynion IV (co-writer #8-11)

Artists: Pencilers- Greg Capullo with Rafael Albuquerque (co-penciler #8-11)
Inkers- Jonathan Glapion with Rafael Albuquerque (co-inker #8-11)

Colorists: Fco Plascencia, Nathan Fairbarn (co-colorist #8), Dave McCaig (co-colorist #9-11)


I was thrilled when DC announced their Essential line of trades, where they compile two arcs into one low priced book. Santa brought a second copy of this book to my son for Christmas along with the corresponding Lego set. I read the second half of the issues collected in this book with my son a while back, so this was a half new read for me. And what a read it is! Scott Snyder gets it.


The whole concept of the Court Of Owls is amazing, and for my money it completely works on all levels. I like how they outmaneuvered Batman for the most part. Those who work in the shadows are more dangerous than those who confront you head on. The Court Of Owls are a great addition to Batman's rogues gallery. I would say that they are ripe for the big screen, but a quick search reveals that they were already featured on the third season of the Gotham television series. I don't watch much in the way of television and have never seen a single episode of the show.


My only gripe with this book is that they could have omitted the character sketches and script extras and included issue 12, a standalone included in the separate trades. I understand that there are page count and price points to meet, but this could have been done with no additional cost. At least the variant covers were included. This is a great value priced collection worth your time and money.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.5 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.

Paper stock: Medium weight semiglossy coated stock.

Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.

Cardstock cover notes: Laminated cardstock cover.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Review- IRON MAN 2020


IRON MAN 2020 (Marvel, First Printing, 2013; Softcover)

Collects Amazing Spider-Man Annual #20, Astonishing Tales: Iron Man 2020 #1-6 webcomic, Death's Head #10, Iron Man 2020 #1, Machine Man #1-4, and the Iron Man 2020 story from What If... #53 (cover dates October, 1984- May 13, 2009)

Writers: Fred Schiller, Ken McDonald, Tom DeFalco, Simon Furman, Walt Simonson, and Daniel Merlin Goodbrey with Barry Windsor-Smith and Bob Wiaceck

Artists: Mark Beachum, Herb Trimpe, Barry Windsor-Smith, Btryan Hitch, Bob Wiaceck, William Rosado, Lou Kang, Manny Galan, Craig Yeung, and Jim Amash


The Iron Man of 2020 is Arno Stark, the cousin of Tony Stark from the far flung future of 2020. This seems amusing to me here in the future present of 2019, but back when I first encountered the character in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #20 in late July of 1986 I figured that we would be living on the moon by 2020. Then-13 year old me sat there and wondered what I would be like in the year 2020. Would I be married? Have kids? Would Judas Priest still be around? Turns out the answers are divorced, yes, and, most surprisingly, yes.

Even 13 year old me thought that the artwork in ASM Annual #20 sucked.

Aside from the four issue mini-series by Tom DeFalco with Herb Trimpe and Barry Windsor-Smith, this is all pretty forgettable stuff . A lot of this book is just this middle of the road, mediocre stuff which began to plague comics circa 1986. This seemed to be around the time when Marvel began stretching themselves thin with the New Universe and endless mini-series.


This is one of those collected editions which, on the surface, seem like a hodge-podge scattershot of issues compiled between two covers. Once you read it, though, you realize that it is indeed a seamless story, albeit one which was published over two dozen odd years. It's worth a read but won't change your life.
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.

Linework and Color restoration: Very good linework restoration and a color palette faithful to the original issues.

Paper stock: The same matte coated stock found in softcover Masterworks, Epic, and Classic lines. This is my favorite paper stock in the world.

Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.

Cardstock cover notes: Laminated cardstock cover.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Review- SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL VOL. 8


SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL VOL. 8 (DC, First Printing, 2014; Softcover)

Collects Action Comics #598-600, Adventures of Superman #439, 440, and Superman #16-18 (cover dates March- June, 1988)

Writers: John Byrne, Paul Kupperberg, and Jerry Ordway

Artists: John Byrne, Jerry Ordway, George Perez, Mike Mignola, Ross Andru, Dick Giordano, Curt Swan, Murphy Anderson, Kurt Schaffenberger, Ty Templeton, Karl Kesel, John Beatty, Keith Williams, and Dennis Janke


John Byrne's Superman reboot of the mid-80s continues in this eighth book in the line. I've enjoyed all of these books and wouldn't bat an eye on the inevitable double dip when they repackage this stuff in an Omnibus line. It's that good.

Superman #17 was incredible. I loved his battle with the Banshee, and the whole story had a Marvel feel to it thanks to John Byrne. His defection to DC was a big deal at the time, but back in the '80s I was a company man forbidden to cross the picket line to DC. More fool me.


Action Comics #600 is the highlight of this book. It would be pretty hard to read this issue and not crack a smile. Byrne draws everything except for Wonder Woman, whom George Perez was drawing at the time and draws here. We get a “comic jam” style team-up similar to the All-Star Comics Justice Society stories of the 1940s. Add in Darkseid and you have a can't miss comic clocking in at a whopping 80 pages.

This is a fantastic read. There is a ninth book in this line but I passed on it in anticipation of the inevitable Omnibus line. DC discovered the double dip repackaging game late but are making up for lost time. It wouldn't surprise me to see it announced within the year.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 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: The color palette is faithful for the most part, although some of the blends are off (as in too much here, not enough there) and some of the blends were done with a lazy, airbrushed gradient style. This method drives me nuts on material which was done with flat coloring because it sticks out like a sore thumb and looks inauthentic.

The linework is often obliterated, with Action Comics #599 being the worst looking issue in the book. It has what I call “the Sharpie effect”, where a restoration artist tried to fix the problem by doubling the lines. The black linework looks far too heavy while all of the fine detail is gone.

Scan of original comic book.

Restoration from this book. 

My overall take is that this is a serviceable job. Since this is DC, they will never bother remastering or doing any touch ups if this material is repurposed in other collections. This is it, folks.

Paper stock: The pros: The paper looks and feels like authentic pulp comic book paper. Cons: The paper looks and feels like authentic pulp comic book paper. I have many DC collections which utilized this chintzy paper stock and they begin yellowing like real comic book paper. Even though this Mando stock doesn't have as much acid as true pulp paper it is still susceptible to aging processes.

Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.

Cardstock cover notes: Laminated cardstock cover.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Review- PRE-CODE CLASSICS SPOOK VOL. 1


PRE-CODE CLASSICS SPOOK VOL. 1 (PS Artbooks, First Printing, 2018; Hardcover)

Collects Spook #22-26 (cover dates January- October, 1953, originally published by Star Comics)

Writers: Mickey Spillane and other unknown writers

Artists: L.B. Cole (covers), Ken Battlefield, George Peltz, Wally Wood, Rudy Palais, John Jordan, Vern Henkel, Jay Disbrow, Howard Larsen, and other unidentified artists


Weird. This series started out as Spook Detective Cases (#22) and was re-titled Spook Suspense And Mystery (#23-on). The series consisted of reprints from other titles until #26. There is a disjointed, decidedly tame bent to the first few issues in this book. Indeed, this series' claim to fame, as far as I can tell, are the brilliant covers by L.B. Cole.

In the first story in this book (Headless Horror!) we see the namesake of the series, Sergeant Spook. Spook is some sort of ghost cop who helps a kid solve a crime. Sergeant Spook was a recurring character in Blue Bolt comics of the 1940s, and two of those stories are reprinted in this book with more appearing in the next volume of the series. Spook is like Casper The Friendly Ghost...if he were an adult...and a cop. Other oddball stories are from true crime type comics of the 1940s and we even get one of those good girl/jungle girl type of tales in #25.


I have to say that this particular book was something of a letdown. Not so much because of the more pedestrian nature of the material for the era, but because I had myself so hyped up when it came out. The book seemed to sell out immediately and required a bit of a hunt for it. Once I obtained it I immediately bumped it to the very front of the reading pile. If it sold out so quickly it can only mean that it must be the greatest of all PS Artbooks, you know? 


No. Sometimes Diamond is just shorted shipments at the time and then the book appears later. Copies of the slipcase edition can still be obtained as of this writing. To quote those kids on the Internet: “It's aight.”
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.

All original advertisements are included in these PS Artbooks. Some, like this one, are downright bizarre. 

Linework and Color restoration
: Like any PS Artbook, the scanning quality varies issue by issue. This looks decent for a scan and print collection although it could have been better in spots. Issue 23 looks blurry, possibly sourced from one of the many public domain comic book sites. Many of those have lower resolution scans, as they were posted before 1200 dpi scanners became the norm.

Paper stock: I love the paper that PS Artbooks switched to a while back. It's a thick coated stock with a very slight sheen to it. Conventional wisdom is that this sort of paper doesn't work with 'scan and print' collections, but I disagree. There is something oddly pleasing about the contrast.

Binding: Sewn binding.

Hardback cover notes: Image printed on the casewrap. Casewrap has a matte coating which will resist shelfwear.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Review- CREEPY ARCHIVES VOL. 11


CREEPY ARCHIVES VOL. 11 (Dark Horse, First Printing, 2011; Hardcover)

Collects Creepy #51-54 (cover dates March- July, 1973, originally published by Warren Magazines)

Writers: Fred Ott, Doug Moench, Rich Margopoulos, John Warner, Martin Pasko, Kevin Pagan, Steve Skeates, Greg Potter, George Henderson, Bill DuBay, Tom Sutton, Don McGregor, Jack Butterworth, and R. Michael Rosen

Artists: Sanjulian, Auraleon, Esteban Maroto, Felix Mas, Ramon Torrents, Adolfo Abellan, Jose Bea, Reed Crandall, Tom Sutton, Richard Corben, and Martin Salvador



Things have started to gently rebound from the series' first creative slump. The recovery was largely powered by Doug Moench, whose writing is among the best of the 1970s. My favorite artist in this book is by Rafael Auraleon, as his work is genuinely creepy. No pun intended.


Issue 51 features an eight page preview of the full color 120 page Dracula paperback which Warren published in 1972. I did some digging, and it turns out this was an English language translation of foreign comics which ran for twelve issues, with unsold copies being rebound into an Annual over in the UK. The Warren book reprints the first six issues from the New English Library (NEL) series, which themselves were reprints of the 1971 Buru Lan Spanish series. It seems like something ripe for a reprinting if rights issues can be sorted out.


Issue 52's Them Thar Flyin' Things rules. That same issue features Reed Crandall's The Man With The Brain Of Gold. Crandall actually refined his craft as he aged, with his artwork being worlds beyond even his 1950s EC greatness. Richard Corben's incredible artwork turns up in #54's The Slipped Mickey.


This was a good but very inconsistent read. If I ever get around to rereading this book I will skip over most of the stories, as they sort of meander and have mediocre artwork. The good stuff is really good, though.


Volume 27 is currently in my possession, with the final volume (Vol. 29) being announced for a summer 2019 release. We will have the entire Creepy and Eerie runs collected in just 11 years, with Dynamite having already covered Vampirella across 15 books and Fantagraphics having done Blazing Combat a decade or so ago. There was a time when seeing all of these collected was little more than a pipe dream. Some argue that the golden age of collected editions is over, but who cares if this is true? We have gotten so many treasures and these books will last my lifetime. Some of them might even get read before I depart this mortal coil.
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.

Linework and Color restoration: High resolution scans of the original magazines. The color portions came out very nice.

Paper stock: Coated stock with a slight sheen.

Binding: Sewn binding. This book will outlast me.

Dustjacket and Hardback cover notes: The hardback as faux leather casewrap with dye foil stamping. The dustjacket is laminated but was a little “wavy” fresh out of the shrinkwrap when I bought way back in 2011.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Review- MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN JUNKIES


MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN JUNKIES (Image, First Printing, 2018; Hardcover)

Original graphic novel.

Writer: Ed Brubaker

Artist: Sean Phillips

Colorist: Jacob Phillips


Brubaker and Phillips are the Lennon and McCartney of Crime/Noir comic books. They have developed the type of creative partnership that most writers and artists can only dream of. Each new book is an automatic blind buy on my end. I don't even need to know what it's about, because I know that it will be worthwhile.

People who romanticize heroin addiction frighten me. I have known people addicted to it, and it's an absolute nightmare for everyone involved. I thought that this story might be a cautionary tale about heroin or a story abut addiction spirals. Instead it morphs into a crime story.


Ellie isn't exactly likable or relatable. She seems like someone best avoided the first time that you meet them. I guess that this wouldn't have been an interesting story if Skip was a smart guy to begin with, though. This problem is compounded by the fact that the reader is provided with no knowledge of Ellie or Skip bottoming out. They are just in rehab, where they meet. I get Ellie's fascination with dead junkie musicians and know the material being referenced offhand, but I imagine younger readers sitting there Googling names and listening to YouTube or Spotify to try and piece it all together and still coming up empty-handed. It's a bit of a plot crutch.



This is a quick read, clocking in at 72 pages. This is, in truth, the next Criminal book, albeit more of a standalone story than an outright continuation. It seemed weaker in my mind after making that connection. If it were listed as Criminal Vol. 8 I would have been less gentle in my criticisms, as Criminal is a high mark of 21st century comic books. This is still worth a read, as Brubaker and Phillips are great and deserve your time and money.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.75 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.

Paper stock: This paper feels like the kind of paper you would find in a Dr. Seuss book. I can't recall any other comic book or collected edition which utilizes this paper stock.

Binding: Sewn binding for $16.99 MSRP? Yes please!

Hardback cover notes: Matte finish on the casewrap.