Monday, 31 August 2015

The Omega Men #2 - DC Comics

THE OMEGA MEN No. 2, September 2015
Storyteller Tom King has almost certainly achieved his goal in writing a comic book which its readers will remember with this depressingly dark tale of mass murder and anti-heroic selfishness. In fact in many ways it’s actually rather hard to work out just who the ‘good guys’ really are in Issue Two of “The Omega Men”, because having blatantly allowed four thousand innocent inhabitants of the planet Ogyptu be slaughtered in retribution for the renegade band’s resistance against the Citadel’s “honoured viceroy”, it most certainly isn’t the “team of extra-terrestrial superheroes” lead by Pren of Euphorix.

Admittedly Joe Staton’s co-creations aren’t quite as despicable as the world of pleasure and contemplation’s purple-skinned overlord; a bald-headed, heavy, thick-set man who merrily negotiates the exact number of people to be executed whilst sipping tea with the population’s governor. But the Vegan System adventurers aren’t too far behind the Citadelian’s barbaric attitude towards the blameless, especially when they decide not to allow Kyle Rayner to save the hapless occupiers of the Asher Stadium and instead use the tyrannical regime’s preoccupation with the cold-blooded slaughter of their victims as a distraction to steal the viceroy’s space vessel.

Just as hard to stomach as these horrific and chilling atrocities is Primus’ supposedly logical rationalisation of his team’s actions. The nobleman would have the White Lantern believe that by fleeing the somewhat barren world, The Omega Men have somehow stopped the Citadel Fleet from killing “three times the number here… on Ogyptu or on Karna.” But surely if the group of rebels hadn’t abducted (and supposedly murdered) Rayner in the first place in order to draw the Corps attention to their system’s tyrannical plight, then the likes of Tigorr and Broot wouldn’t have had to fight for their lives against the viceroy’s soldiers to begin with?

Theoretical conundrums with King’s storyline aside, artist Barnaby Bagenda makes all the dreadful barbarism of this bleakly grim narrative thoroughly enthralling as a result of some simply outstanding illustrations. Many, such as the scene depicting a young boy being brought to his knees by his executor just before the trooper shots him in the back of the head off-panel, may make many readers unpleasantly uncomfortable. Yet such inferred violence simply reinforces the utter despair of the former CIA operative’s plot, and certainly isn’t as graphic in nature as the Indonesia’s drawing of a man’s brain bleeding onto the stadium’s turf towards the end of the Citadel’s sickening vengeance.
Writer: Tom King, Art: Barnaby Bagenda, and Colorist: Romulo Fajardo Junior

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Marvel Zombies #1 - Marvel Comics

MARVEL ZOMBIES No. 1, August 2015
Published as part of the “Marvel Worldwide” “Secret Wars multiverse crossover” mega-event “where pieces of the main Marvel Universe, Ultimate Universe, and several other alternates are melded into a Battle World”, it is hard to imagine a title with so dislikeable a main protagonist as Simon Spurrier’s portrayal of Elsa Bloodstone. For whilst this mini-series’ hard-nosed section commander of ‘The Shield’ is a cold-hearted alternative version of Dan Abnett’s co-creation, the female monster hunter is as unsympathetic and apparently uncaring as one can be, and even goes so far as to tell one of her fatally wounded understandably distraught soldiers that “you will show no weakness. Blubbing is not allowed.”

Admittedly a lot of this character’s “hardass” attitude to her companions’ woes is actually superficial showmanship and would seemingly stem from an exceptionally harsh and cruel childhood at the hands of her father, the immortal Hellfire Helix imbued Ulysses Bloodstone. But having been exposed to the razor-sharp teeth and claws of “a lowly piranha-gibbon” at the tender age of seven still doesn’t really excuse Angry Lady’s insensitive and callous attitude towards “Shuttup”, an apparently petrified “amnesiac urchin-boy who will quite possibly turn out to be a despicable monstrosity”.

Fortunately the British comic book writer’s narrative contains so very much more than the gloomy childhood ‘flashback’ scenes of the one-time Fearless Defender and instead swiftly strands Elsa “two hundred miles south of The Shield” with “lots and lots of zombies” between her and safety. Such a grave predicament provides Spurrier with plenty of opportunities to have Bloodstone battle the ever-hungry Undead, and also simultaneously tap deeply into Mark Millar’s extremely popular “Marvel Zombies” mythos.

In fact “Journey Into Misery” contains some truly excellent cameos from a handful of the meta-series’ most recognisable super-powered walking dead, such as a sinisterly decomposed “sssuuupeerior” Doctor Octopus and the leader of “the Legions of the Red Terror”, as well as the cause of Bloodstone’s trials and tribulations, the demonic humanoid teleporter Azazel. Arguably the highlight of the “2000 A.D.” author’s storyline however has to be the weaponless commander’s confrontation with the truly hideous-looking unstoppable Juggernaut. Not only does Cain Marko disgustingly try to lick his prey to death, on account of the ‘living corpse’ having no lips, but the event also causes Elsa’s Helix shard choker to activate for the first time and literally fry the empowered mutant zombie to pieces.

Kev Walker’s artwork conveys all this grisly death and destruction masterfully, with the Leeds-based penciller’s slightly cartoony, though well-detailed clean-lined drawings, proving to be very reminiscent in style to that of the “critically acclaimed” “Preacher” storyteller Steve Dillon. Indeed the former “Magic: The Gathering” collectible card game illustrator’s depictions of Azazel, Doctor Octopus and Juggernaut are outstanding, and clearly shows the artist’s “Marvel Zombies 3” and “Marvel Zombies 4” pedigree.
The regular cover art of "MARVEL ZOMBIES" No. 1 by Greg Land

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Batman #23.3 [The New 52] - DC Comics

BATMAN No. 23.3, November 2013
It’s arguable that the villainous character of Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot was forever changed following actor Danny DeVito’s portrayal of the deformed portly aristocrat in the 1992 “Warner Brothers” motion picture “Batman Returns”. For Bob Kane’s “gentleman of crime”, a simple eccentric-looking thief with a fondness for both fowl and “specialized high-tech umbrellas”, was irrevocably transformed into a sinisterly “dark, more grotesque” mobster who is every bit the sadistic cold-blooded killer as the Joker is… Only the “persistent nemesis for Batman and Robin throughout the Golden and Silver Ages” of Comics is possibly all the more scary as he’s still “perfectly sane.”

With the story “Bullies” Frank Tieri wonderfully taps into this more nefarious and vicious aspect to the Penguin, as the nightclub-owner not only personally dispatches three low-level card-sharks who were foolish enough to cheat within his licensed premises. But also, with a wicked grin upon his face, entraps an old college buddy by covertly injecting him with the “highly addictive super-steroid” Venom and then videos the man brutalising his secretary in a hotel room; “Yes, Miss Collins. What’s left of the lass, anyway. Although we can’t be one hundred percent certain as we can’t find her head. We suspect you might have eaten it.”

Such a horrific portrayal of ‘Image Games Network’s Fifty-First Comic Book Villain of All Time’ is made all the more grim and chilling by the fact that the monocle-wearing bird’s victim, Carter Winston, used to protect a beleaguered youthful Cobblepot whilst the two resided at the same boarding school. In fact before the Governor announces his plans to close down the Penguin’s beloved Iceberg Casino, the homicidal fiend actually speaks very endearingly of “my old friend” to his ‘lieutenant’ Lark.

Possibly just as unattractive as the Brooklyn-born writer’s interpretation of Oswald as a ruthless calculating murderer is artist Christian Duce’s portrayal of the tuxedo-adorned crime lord. The Uruguayan penciller is clearly a thoroughly competent illustrator and his panel-work depicting Governor Winston’s stomach-churning madness as the politician realises the sickening grisly truth behind what he’s done to Miss Collins is extremely well-paced. But the “Arkham Manor: Endgame” sketcher’s depiction of a podgy-faced, beak-nosed Penguin is as outstanding as it is monstrous, with the fiend’s heavily-lined eyes, bright with intelligent malice, proving to be particularly perturbing.
Writer: Frank Tieri, Artist: Christian Duce, and Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Skull The Slayer #2 - Marvel Comics

SKULL THE SLAYER No. 2, November 1975
Written by two-time Jack Kirby Award-winner Marv Wolfman, “Gods and Super-Gods” represents everything both good and bad about “Marvel Comics Group” publications during the mid-Seventies. On the one hand the Brooklyn-born author’s narrative concerns an entertainingly corny concoction of modern day man, cave-dwelling cannibals, long-dead extra-terrestrials and an assortment of dinosaurs from “two hundred and twenty-two million years” ago. Whilst on the other the New Yorker populates this eighteen-page periodical with some astoundingly one-dimensional protagonists, such as Jeff Turner, a young runaway whose “domineering father… thinks he owns me!”

Indeed it is hard to sympathise with any of this title’s lead characters, as all of them carry some dislikeable ‘chip upon their shoulders’, even the beautiful Ann Reynolds, who having come “top in my class… was told they didn’t hire young girls because we’d be trained and then we’d leave within a year once we were married!” Such a crass chauvinistic attitude is as prehistoric as the historically inaccurate, heavily-fanged Brontosaurus Jim Scully faces at the conclusion of this issue.

However nothing arguably compares to the hateful attitude of Doctor Raymond Corey, whose belief that “every white man’s out to put you down!” makes the scientist seemingly appear to be just as much of a racist as the bigoted prejudicial people he resents; “Don’t worry white jungle god -- we’ll get on our knees to thank you! Or would you prefer we sacrifice some native girls to your magnificence?” Such an obnoxious disagreeable group of ‘heroes’ makes it incredibly hard for the reader to actually care about any of these hapless time-travellers, especially when they spend the vast majority of their ‘screen time’ bickering or threatening one another.

Fortunately Wolfman does still manage to imbue Issue Two” of “Skull The Slayer” with plenty of action sequences. “Murderer” Scully’s fist-fight with a number of the cave-dwelling “sub-microscopic morons” and subsequent defeat of "five tons of rampaging Styracosaurus" is as dynamically thrilling as any bibliophile could want. Whilst the adventurers’ exploration of an alien-made chamber, complete with the decaying corpse of a long-dead ‘Martian’ and tantalising wall etchings, proves a suspenseful compelling read.

Somewhat disappointing however has to be the artwork of Steve Gan. The “naturalised Filipino of Chinese origin” is perfectly capable of drawing some truly outstanding looking panels, such as Jim and his compatriots being savaged by a “Bucking Bronto” whilst swimming through “the murky green waters” of a primordial river. But the penciller then ruins the impact of such illustrations by producing some truly poor pictures, complete with misshapen-heads and odd-looking limbs, on the very next page.
Creator/Writer: Marv Wolfman, Artist: Steve Gan, and Letterer: San Jose

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Daredevil #13 - Marvel Comics

DAREDEVIL No. 13, April 2015
Whilst a storyline based upon some nemesis of a comic book’s titular character seeking revenge upon the superhero’s friends and family is not a new one, nor indeed a narrative exploring the paranoia of some costumed crimefighter as they fear for the safety of their loved ones. Mark Waid’s script for Issue Thirteen of “Daredevil” is somewhat surprisingly refreshing in that it additionally deals with the possibility that Matt Murdock’s ‘sweetheart’ Kirsten McDuffie may actually have an enemy of her own as a result of being a former assistant district attorney; “Do you know what this means? I have my own arch-foe! My! Own!”

Unfortunately for this magazine’s 31,483 readers however the revelation that the Lilac Murderer is the prosecutor’s “grudgemate” is not actually revealed until near the very end of the twenty-page periodical. Something which disappointingly means any perusing bibliophiles must first wade through a series of nauseating scenes which depict a rather disagreeable ‘Hornhead’ at his most insecure and argumentative. In fact the blind lawyer’s self-righteous quarrel with long-time friend Foggy Nelson about how Kirsten is ‘little more’ than “a supporting player in the adventures of Daredevil” shows ‘The Man Without Fear’ at his very worst, especially when he also accuses his sick ex-partner of being jealous of his relationship with the woman because she’s “loopy for you.”

Luckily the Eisner Award-winning writer doesn’t exclusively focus upon this rather dislikeable opinionated super-hero for too long, and by this publication’s mid-way point has finally got Murdock donning his famous all-red costume and leaping from rooftop to rooftop across the San Francisco skyline in an effort to locate his missing beloved and her abductor. Daredevil’s subsequent investigation into McDuffie’s disappearance at her regular Coffee Shop is compelling stuff and the added edge that this time the victim is close to his heart makes the suspense all the more pulse-pounding.

For once the Alabama-born author also doesn’t depict the vigilante relying solely upon his highly developed sonar ability either. But instead portrays Murdock as being every bit the detective as some of his comic book contemporaries, as he uses his sense of smell to realise that the assailant never left the eatery because otherwise “this alley would reek of knockout gas” and actually escaped via a hidden basement entrance into the sewers.

Equally as enjoyable as Matt's 'masterclass' in deductive reasoning is the welcome return of Max Coleridge as the anti-heroic Shroud. "San Francisco's proto-daredevil, if you will" adds a much needed uneasiness to Waid's storytelling and the magazine's abrupt cliffhanger that Steve Englehart's co-creation has allied himself to a sinisterly youthful-looking Owl proves a fittingly dramatic conclusion to a deepeningly dark read.
Storytellers: Mark Waid & Chris Samnee, and Colorist: Matthew Wilson

Monday, 24 August 2015

Lando #2 - Marvel Comics

LANDO No. 2, October 2015
Following the disappointing depiction of an arguably somewhat unrecognisable and unappealing Lando Calrissian stealing “an imperial luxury yacht undergoing a refit at the Siernar Fleet Systems shipyard” in his mini-series’ previous issue, writer Charles Soule disheartening demonstrates an even greater lack of knowledge of George Lucas’ smooth-talking charmer within this twenty-page periodical. For having succeeded in his heist, thanks in large to “the aid of two cloned alien warriors (Aleksin and Pavol) and an Ugnaught antiquities expert”, the galactic adventurer lamentably spends the entirety of "Lando - Part Two" sat within the vessel’s cockpit issuing orders so as to evade the tractor beams of three pursuing star destroyers.

Such a somewhat sedentary plot, whilst admittedly being slightly reminiscent of the Millennium Falcon’s thrilling flight from the Imperial forces orbiting Hoth in the 1980 motion picture “The Empire Strikes Back”, is a far cry from the action arguably anticipated for a title featuring so swashbuckling a rogue. Indeed it comes as little surprise that eventually even the Brooklyn-born author himself apparently tires of the tiny ship tediously dodging gravity-based mines in outer space and instead rather randomly ‘whisks’ the reader away to the watery-world of Amethia Prime in The Inner Rim so as to witness the superman-like caped bounty hunter Chanath Cha capture a local, unimaginatively named crime boss called Big String.

This somewhat lengthy, though thoroughly entertaining, high-speed boat chase lasts for almost a third of the book and provides ample evidence that when he puts his mind to it the New York Times best-selling author can script an enjoyably competent sci-fi sequence. Discouragingly however even this scene is worryingly unoriginal and strongly reminiscent of an old Thirties Buster Crabbe Hollywood serial as the armoured recovery agent ‘socks’ his way past his frog-faced fugitive’s masked minions; “Whatever they’re paying you for me, I can beat it.”

Undoubtedly adding to this publication’s palatable atmosphere of disappointment and disenchantment is Alex Maleev’s irrepressibly robotic-looking drawings. In fact the artwork of the Bulgarian painter has probably seldom looked worse, with Billy Dee Williams’ likeness constantly being depicted with ‘the shiniest nose in space’. Whilst the Emperor’s sharpest “needle” Chanath Cha looks like some bizarre amalgamation of every superhero costume conceived during the Golden Age of Comics.
Writer: Charles Soule, Artist: Alex Maleev, and Colors: Paul Mounts

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Batman #23.2 [The New 52] - DC Comics

BATMAN No. 23.2, November 2013
Having made his first appearance in the October 1948 issue of “Detective Comics”, Bill Finger and Dick Sprang’s co-creation has arguably been predominantly portrayed within the ‘DC Universe’ as a brilliant yet “sometimes a little silly” character. A supervillain who is rarely paid “the respect he thinks he deserves”. With “Solitaire”, a “DC Comics” “Villains Month” spotlight book which purportedly “unleashes the Riddler” upon Wayne Enterprises Tower, writer Ray Fawkes would appear to have been trying to inject Edward with a somewhat darker, more sinister streak and by the end of his twenty-page narrative actually succeeds.

Indeed the green-suited puzzle-obsessed madman has rarely been portrayed as such a coldly calculating, patient, nasty piece of work, as he spends four years planning an attack upon an Arkham Asylum guard simply because the man laid a hand on him after discovering that the “psycho” had torn his sleeping sheets to shreds in order to create a deck of homemade cards; “You know the rules. No cards. No games. Not for you, smart guy.” Such chilling dedication to such a perceived personal slight is unnerving to say the least, especially as in order to take his revenge and literally blow off the officer’s “arm you pushed me with” Nygma has to overcome the formidable challenges of “the most secure building in Gotham City”.

Fawkes would have the magazine’s 107,413 readers believe that “one of the Batman’s most enduring enemies” attempts such a feat in order to add “layers to the game to keep himself entertained” and in the hope “that someone will face off against him and allow him to prove his superiority.” But there seems to be much more than that to the Canadian storyteller’s Riddler as the flamboyant felon demonstrates a real viciousness to his character during this ‘intellectual escapade’. Certainly the masked maniac seems to take a sadistic delight in electrocuting one of Wayne’s hapless ‘morons’ simply because the sentry wouldn’t even “try to answer” a conundrum. Whilst Edward's brutal beating of “functionary” Caroline Slater after the company executive catches him unawares with a ‘sock to the jaw’ is unchivalrously merciless.

Disappointingly, whilst the writing for this edition of “Batman” is compellingly strong, the artwork of Jeremy Haun leaves quite a bit to be desired. The American freelancer can clearly draw a very competent panel. But despite the storyline containing numerous dynamic action-packed sequences, the former “Top Cow” illustrator’s pencilling appears very staid with the main antagonist’s movement in particular appearing rather robotic and lifeless.
Writer: Ray Fawkes, Artist: Jeremy Haun, and Colorist: John Rausch

Friday, 21 August 2015

Star Wars #7 - Marvel Comics

STAR WARS No. 7, September 2015
Focusing upon the exploits of the wizard who “is just a crazy old man”, this "special one-off" stand-alone tale taken “from the journals of old Ben Kenobi” was the fourth highest-selling comic book of July 2015 and sold an astonishing 160,000 copies upon its initial publication. However whilst this magazine was somewhat surprisingly not the most popular of the “Marvel Worldwide” “Star Wars” titles for the month, that honour falling to the first issue of “Lando”, it was arguably the best written, with Jason Aaron’s captivating narrative of a Jedi “in hiding on Tatooine” making many of the science fiction series’ fans clamour for “Ben the forgotten hermit” to be awarded his very own strip.

Indeed, if the tense, quietly restrained violence and action of this twenty-page periodical is anything to go by then the Alabama-born author would certainly seem to have struck a potentially rich vein of future storylines depicting Obi-Wan’s adventures on the first planet in the binary Tatoo star system. Especially as this withdrawn, almost timid “Ben the relic” is a far cry from the laser-sword welding Army of the Republic General previously seen in the motion picture “Revenge Of The Sith”.

Fortunately despite it having ‘been years since he’s touched a lightsaber’ and having spent all of that time dwelling “far out in the Dune Sea, where nothing but womp rats and Tusken Raiders ever dared go”, Aaron still manages to give the former member of the Jedi Council plenty of enemies to fight, including a nod to the bounty hunters of “The Empire Strikes Back” with an early appearance of the “ambitious protocol droid” 4-LOM. These notable confrontations, such as Kenobi dispatching an entire speeder full of Jabba’s killers in order to protect Anakin’s young son, are full of suspense and also provide the disillusioned doubting protagonist ample opportunity to demonstrate that Qui-Gon Jinn’s Padawan is still more than capable of using the power of the Force; “There’s something out there, picking us off one by one! Shoot it!”

Just as well drawn as this comic book has been written, is the artwork by Simone Bianchi. The Italian graphic designer’s illustrations are incredibly animated and absolutely packed full of detail. In fact the Luccan art instructor’s representation of an almost destitute galaxy-weary Obi-Wan Kenobi is arguably worth the cover price of this comic alone, with the one-time Jedi Master’s aging appearance being a clever blend of both Ewan McGregor and Sir Alec Guinness' facial characteristics.
The regular cover art of "STAR WARS" No. 7 by John Cassaday

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Giant-Size Little Marvel: AvX #1 - Marvel Comics

GIANT-SIZE LITTLE MARVEL: AVX No. 1, August 2015
Whilst “Marvel Comics” have printed several cataclysmic confrontations between Professor Xavier’s former students and the “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” during their seventy-five year-old history, with the 2012 multi-issue “AvX” crossover event probably proving to be the most commercially successful, the two super-teams have never before battled one another simply to determine which can serve the best ‘street food’ to the likes of Toad and the Blob. Skottie Young’s narrative for Issue One of “Giant-Size Little Marvel: AvX” however, is based upon just such a humorous supposition and for almost the entirety of this twenty-page periodical wonderfully portrays all manner of toddler-like superheroes continually vying for the ‘gastric’ attention of Mortimer Toynbee and Frederick Dukes.

Such a less than serious tone of juvenile ‘one-upmanship’ really does create some delightful ‘laugh out loud’ moments within the Fairbury-born writer’s narrative, and only the most cold-hearted of this publication’s 66,401 readers wouldn’t have found either the miniscule Thor out-trumping Wolverine’s burger-based X-snack with his “finest Horgon ribs straight from Asgard”, or Daredevil blindly ordering “the diablo nachos” from no-one in particular, charmingly endearing sequences. Indeed, the Inkwell Award-winner’s storyline is chock full of similarly amusing moments and even goes so far as show Tony Stark ‘hitting upon’ Spider-Gwen only to be told in no uncertain terms to desist on account of ‘a kid with a moustache and goatee being creepy.’

Unsurprisingly, these childish “food truck hopping” shenanigans soon escalate out of all proportion, particularly when a rather portly Hulk scoffs all of the X-babies food, and Storm is soon found focussing a highly localised rain storm to drench Iron Man’s technologically advanced “we have it all” meal van customers, whilst Magneto subsequently disassembles the playboy’s armour suit in order to reduce a seriously peeved-looking ‘billionaire’ down to his pink undies; “You think that’s funny? Let’s see if you’ll laugh at this. Thor. Hammer Time.”


Young’s pencilling throughout this ‘tongue-in-cheek’ adventure is absolutely’ spot on’ and genuinely makes every panel depicting the various infantile characters a real delight to the eye. In fact, the American illustrator’s breakdowns are arguably faultless, with his breath-taking double-splash of the “two biggest factions in the Marvel Universe” fighting as a result of a mischievous Stark deliberating melting Magick’s evil pony pal action figure with his “new hand-blasters” proving to be the comic book’s highlight.
The regular cover art of "GIANT-SIZE LITTLE MARVEL: AVX" No. 1 by Skottie Young

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Age Of Reptiles: Ancient Egyptians #2 - Dark Horse Comics

AGE OF REPTILES: ANCIENT EGYPTIANS No. 2, July 2015
In many ways it is quite hard not to imagine the softly spoken voice of a broadcaster or naturalist such as Sir David Attenborough knowledgably whispering in your ear whilst reading this second instalment of “the Eisner-winning wordless series”. For Ricardo Delgado’s ‘vision’ of a group of Carcharodontosaurus Saharicus worrying a herd of Sauropods in order to ‘snatch’ away the enormous plant-eaters’ minute young manages to emulate the very best of televised wildlife documentaries.

Indeed this twenty-four page publication so readily captures the essence of a natural history programme that any bibliophile with the tiniest interest in dinosaurs will feel that they are genuinely watching a live action sequence rather than perusing a periodical. So much so in fact that their blood will undoubtedly run cold and their pulse start to race as the American comic creator’s opening panels depict the lime green playful Paralititan pups being hungrily watched from the shadows of the swamp by the Theropods.

Bizarrely this magazine’s greatest asset however, is the sometimes violent and gruesome narrative’s amazing ability to conjure up the noise and sounds of the primordial world within which these ‘giant lizards’ live... and oft-times die. Whether it be the eerie quiet stillness of the semi-hidden ‘jagged toothed’ carnivores as they patiently observe their hapless quarry, the yipping of diminutive baby titanosaurians as they spar with one another at the feet of their gigantic parents, or the thunder of the Saharicus’ three-toed feet upon the moist earth as they charge towards the now petrified yelping offspring and snatch them up within their horribly large jaws, one can easily imagine every reverberation, every thud and every grisly crunch.

Visually some of Delgado’s imagery is equally as vivid and occasionally heart-breaking, especially as events progress and the meat-eaters bloodily tear apart their pathetic prey until all but one tiny, shivering infant sauropod remains. Sated, the gore-caked adults sluggishly then watch as a momentarily defiant Paralititan tot bests one of their brood with a well-timed head-butt before succumbing to their teeth and claws.

Disconcertingly however, this is as nothing compared to the artist’s depiction of this title’s primary protagonist, a solitary anti-heroic Spinosaurus Aegypticus, devouring the young of a female he has just coupled with. The sheer savagery of the 'spine lizard' as he rends the squawking litter to pieces or squashes them underfoot would be horrible enough on its own. But is actually brutally exaggerated as a result of colorist Ryan Hill populating every repugnant panel with nothing but numerous shades of red.
Story, Art and Dinosaur Color Concepts: Ricardo Delgado, and Colors: Ryan Hill

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

The Omega Men #1 - DC Comics

THE OMEGA MEN No. 1, August 2015
Described by Tom King as “a brutal Space Odyssey that grabs you and twists you and won’t let you go”, this “revamp of a lesser-known DC team” originally created in the Eighties by Marv Wolfman and Joe Staton, is a somewhat enthralling experience despite the comic’s opening narrative not actually making it all that clear as to what is going on. Admittedly the “former CIA operative turned author” had previously scripted an eight-page introductory preview story so as to explain the events leading up to this new series. But presumably not all of this book’s 30,158 readers had the opportunity to go online and enjoy “DC Comics” special sneak peek in which the Omega Men supposedly killed White Lantern Kyle Rayner and as a result became hunted fugitives of the Citadel…

Fortunately however the Washington-based writer’s script very quickly establishes that the star empire’s assault rifle-toting soldiers are clearly little more than the murderous minions of Abaetern’s Viceroy, as they shockingly gun down a hapless priest who isn’t expecting visitors to his ‘church’ for another hour. Whilst their prey, hidden by the local inhabitants of the planet Ogyptu, and consisting of a seriously odd-looking assortment of extra-terrestrials equally as armed to the teeth, are the title’s main protagonists; “We are friends. We will not hurt you.”

Having therefore quickly established the good guys from the bad, King then fills Issue One of “The Omega Men” with a series of tense action-packed scenes depicting the various refugees from the Vegan System dispatching their pursuers in a variety of blood-thirsty, rather graphic-looking ways. Foremost amongst these gory sequences has to be that involving the “savage Karnan feline fighter” Tigorr. Whose method of luring his unsuspecting assailants down to a gruesome, painful demise within a dark hole, hidden beneath a trap door “under the carpet” is as grisly as the hulking humanoid Catman is ferocious. Indeed the occasional team-leader’s claws are so formidable that when he corners the Citadel’s last surviving trooper, the squaddie coolly shoots himself in the head rather than be disembowelled by the furry warrior.

Equally as disturbing a killer though is undoubtedly the misguided nobleman Primus, who literally blows off the face of a “poor Citadel citizen” whilst offering the blue-skinned guard his most profuse apologies; “I am sorry. Very. I am very sorry.” In fact “The One Who Leads” appears so unhinged that having slain his foe, he then shouts at his robotic companion Doc, to “give him a look” just to “make sure he’s gone” and is not in any way suffering.

All of these proceedings are simply stunningly illustrated by Barnaby Bagenda. The Indonesian penciller really manages to imbue his pages with plenty of dynamism and life, not forgetting plenty of blood spatters, despite the majority of his breakdowns simply consisting of nine standard-sized rectangular panels.
Writer: Tom King, Art: Barnaby Bagenda, and Colorist: Romulo Fajardo Junior

Monday, 17 August 2015

Batman Beyond #3 - DC Comics

BATMAN BEYOND No. 3, October 2015
Writer Dan Jurgens’ pre-publication declaration that this third instalment detailing his ‘take’ on the DC Universe “thirty-five years in the future” would contain a “nice little surprise” at the end, doubtless had many comic collecting cynics believing that the National Cartoonists Society Award-winner was simply trying to increase the title’s distribution sales. But on this occasion “DC Comics” advertising hype would actually seem to have been correct, albeit this twenty-page periodical’s greatest ‘bombshell’ is not the fact that Tim Drake was duped into leading Brother Eye back to the secret location of Neo-Gotham. But that the former Red Robin ever actually survived his incarceration at the hands of the “semi-autonomous artificial intelligence surveillance system” in the first place.

Indeed, when it comes to portraying a superhero somehow surmounting overwhelming adversity in order to succeed then the young (future) Batman’s escape from the very heart of the supervillain’s “Cyborgian Army” factory in “Brave New Worlds – Part Three” has to be viewed as a genuinely miraculous exodus. Either that or an especially contrived narrative which defies all common sense, logic and practicality, and one which disappointingly actually generates far more questions than it answers.

Foremost of these convoluted conundrums is the American author’s explanation as to why Inque is a ‘loyal’ lieutenant of Brother Eye and willing to subserviently do whatever the one-time orbiting satellite commands. Initially Jurgens would have his readers believe that the shape-shifting femme fatale ‘sold out humanity’ simply because “I’m a survivor. You’re dead. Reason enough?” Yet then divulges that Jack Kirby’s creation is actually holding the daughter of Terry McGinnis’ ‘most powerful adversary’ as a prisoner on the moon.

Such a revelation makes perfect ‘motivational’ sense unless in the very next panel, the distraught mother immediately endangers her child’s life by forming an alliance with Batman, simply because the costumed crimefighter confidently asserts “Help me burn this place to the ground and I swear I’ll bring your daughter back to you.” Why having clearly spent so long under Brother Eye’s thrall helping the mechanical monstrosity subjugate the planet’s entire population would Inque suddenly risk all on the say-so of her one-time greatest foe? Especially when he’s trapped deep within the bowels of one of the artificial intelligence’s most notorious strongholds?

Equally as mystifying is Drake’s somewhat superficial rematch with his former Teen Titans team-mate Cyborg. Vic Stone arguably pummelled Tim in their previous encounter, yet Jurgens suddenly has Batman, despite clearly have been tortured by his captors for a considerable amount of time, truly trounce the mechanically enhanced superhuman by simply giving him a face full of jet boots; “You beat me once. No one beats me twice.”
The variant cover art of "BATMAN BEYOND" No. 3 by Carlo Pagulayan

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Moon Knight #17 - Marvel Comics

MOON KNIGHT No. 17, September 2015
Anyone perusing this comic’s disconcertingly sinister opening third will arguably find it hard to believe that “Duality” actually saw its title’s circulation fall by almost a thousand issues in July 2015. For whilst the initial narrative lacks any of the spectacular “two-fisted justice” action set-pieces this series of “Moon Knight” is known for, it does contain a compellingly tense nervy trip through a rather creepily run Church of Khonshu. In fact for eight or so pages, Cullen Bunn’s writing is at its very best, as a heavily disguised elderly-looking Marc Spector slowly potters his way through the intimidatingly lengthy corridors of the murderous institution and discovers just how far “the welcoming committee” will go in order to “bring in tithes” for their saviour.      

Sadly however the Bram Stoker Award-nominee’s narrative takes a decidedly dire turn for the worse, once the street-level crimefighter finds his way to the establishment’s basement basilica, and promptly flattens the three muscle-bound Egyptian warriors who were planning on slitting his throat with their curved sacrificial blades. Indeed in many ways it is actually hard to believe that this book’s later stages were scripted by the same storyteller, as having spent a considerable time building up a claustrophobic atmosphere of ‘dark doings’ within a ‘House of God’, Bunn suddenly has “New York’s wildest vigilante” going toe-to-toe with a half-naked homicidally deranged imitation of Laura Kinney, complete with X-23(ish) claws.

Admittedly this confrontation, which quickly shows Moon Knight’s female adversary to be as formidable a killing machine as she is a sadistic slayer, is as brutal and bloody as any of this twenty-page periodical’s 20,615 readers could want. But having initially intimated that his tale was going to concentrate upon Spector as “the night’s greatest detective”, the American author’s abrupt abandonment of such a ‘sleuth-story’ in favour of little more than a one-sided ‘punch-up’ exasperates the senses and even arguably suggests that this comic’s script is simply two separate ideas jarringly bolted together; “That must have been some night in Vegas…”

The artwork of (returning) penciller Ron Ackins would also appear to suffer from the ‘duality’ of Bunn’s somewhat contrived plot, as the self-taught illustrator’s rather unique ‘quirky’ style really helps accentuate the disconcerting happiness of the Moon Deity’s supposed followers. Regrettably though the Philadelphia-born graphic designer’s later drawings, especially those depicting Mister Knight’s ‘rip-roaring’ mêlée with his ‘sister’, are far less successfully sketched and genuinely suggest that (once again) the artist was in a rush to meet his deadline.
Writer: Cullen Bunn, Art: Ron Ackins, and Inkers: Tom Palmer with Walden Wong

Friday, 14 August 2015

Master Of Kung Fu #4 - Marvel Comics

MASTER OF KUNG FU No. 4, October 2015
Having endured this anti-climactic concluding instalment to Shang-Chi’s “Secret Wars” mini-series, many readers will arguably wish that writer Haden Blackmore had somehow managed to find a way “to pass up on an opportunity to flesh out a new corner of the Marvel Universe”. For whilst his “Battleworld” narrative is successful in “revolving around martial arts and the supernatural”, the former “LucasArts” producer’s uninspiring final premise that the long-time enemies of the Emperor’s “disgraced son” would actually aid him in his ‘mission’ to become Zheng Zhu’s better, just because he admits he “sacrificed his honor” for the sake of rival and former love Red Sai (Elektra), is implausible nonsense.

Certainly it is hard to imagine anyone who hates the true “Master Of Kung Fu” as much as Daniel Rand-K’ai has been depicted doing throughout this storyline, suddenly channelling their own life-force into their arch-nemesis’ dying form just because the ailing combatant admits he “only killed” Iron Fist’s Master to stop the Emperor from murdering an entire martial arts school. As the unlikeable wielder of the mystical living force says himself at the time of this unconvincing revelation “He should have found another way. He could have killed his father instead…”

Dubious plotting and questionable motivations aside however, the computer games “creative director” does arguably produce something of a memorable confrontation between Shang-Chi and his parent within the final third of this comic book. In fact for close to eight pages it is hard to disassociate Blackmore’s new version of Jim Starlin’s co-creation from the old, as the master of Wushu goes toe-to-toe with Zheng Zhu and uses all manner of fighting techniques in order to eventually outwit the evil tyrant…

Admittedly Steve Englehart’s extraordinarily skilled warrior from the Seventies never manifested unearthly magical proficiencies such as “the power to harden my hands into the mortal blade” or “to force all of my most painful memories into the mind of another…” But considering within this ‘alternative universe’ martial artists are bestowed with “a wide range of powers and abilities” like “intangibility and even shape-shifting”, such an extreme variance to the original ‘powerless’ Shang-Chi is just about tolerable.

Perhaps slightly more bearable than the script to “Master And Apprentice” is the action-packed artwork of Dalibor Talajic. The Croatian penciller’s panels depicting Rand-K’ai and Red Sai’s all-too brief battle with this comic’s “battered and exhausted” main protagonist is full of dynamic movement and rather well-drawn. Unfortunately though the same cannot be said for the illustrator’s portrayal of the Emperor’s ultimate battle with his son in the Thirteenth Chamber, with parts of "the Final Battle", such as Shang-Chi’s application of the “Lost Hope” technique upon his father’s brow, appearing rather amateur-looking at best.
Writer: Haden Blackman, Penciler: Dalibor Talajic, and Inker: Goran Sudzuka

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Injection #4 - Image Comics

INJECTION No. 4, August 2015
Amidst the unnecessary and juvenile application of profanities within his characters’ conversations and the utterly unfollowable technobabble of “five crazy people” as they discuss their work’s final findings, storyteller Warren Ellis inadvertently also stumbles upon an all-too worringly apt description for this comic book’s narrative… “It’s so boring.” For whilst Professor Kilbride is clearly describing her team’s unappetizing vision for the planet’s future when she extrapolates that Mankind has previously reached “a peak of novelty and innovation” and must now “enter a long trough. Straight flat line”. The insane guilt-ridden ‘troubled scientist’ could just as easily be talking about the quality of this title’s writing and just how tediously poor the English author’s storyline is.

For starters this periodical squanders its entire twenty-page length in order to just simply depict Maria deciding to visit “an abandoned factory” in order to ascertain whether there has been “an incursion from deep history or another strata of space-time or a previously mysterious terrestrial life form that we once believed to be folklore” within its dilapidated ruins. Everything else, whether it be Control updating the new Dispatch (and reader) with a series of media files showing Kilbride facing “more than we can ever find the words to describe in plain briefing documents”, Simon Winters being collected from Criochfort Terminal Two at Dublin Airport or Robin Morel “circling around the notion of building something to accelerate the future and… doing it to the world without warning” is superfluous, arguably somewhat sanctimonious, padding… and discourse-heavy incomprehensible padding at that.

Admittedly the Essex-born writer does manage to ‘inject’ a little of his (in)famous humour, barbed or otherwise, into this “creator-owned project". The British Foreign Office serviceman inadvertently stepping in some ‘dog muck’ whilst out on a friendly ramble with his team-mates is rather droll, as is Maria’s “Star Trek” quote during a theological discussion; “Ye Cannae break the laws of physics! The budget cannae take it, cap’n!” There’s even a facetious ‘pop’ at the “Sapling Foundations” Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) conferences. But such amusements are few and far between, and certainly don’t compensate for an otherwise lethargic read.

Equally as unfathomable as Ellis’ “sociocultural commentary” is Declan Shalvey’s inexplicably inconsistent illustration work. The Irish penciller’s misshapen, overly-angular and surprisingly undetailed figures, such as those drawn for a lack-lustre-looking ‘flashback scene’ staged within a public restaurant, are uninspiring at best, and genuinely make one wonder why Eric Stephenson, publisher at “Image Comics”, thought “the two of them together are an absolutely amazing team.”
The 'Haunted' variant cover art of "INJECTION" No. 4 by Declan Shalvey

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Uber #10 - Avatar Press

UBER No. 10, February 2014
Whilst Kieron Gillen’s “unyielding vision of enhanced human warfare” could indeed be argued to have “redefined the altered history and super solider genres completely” in comic books, this particular issue of “Uber” is a disappointingly sedentary affair which almost exclusively concentrates upon dialogue-heavy conversations and discussions rather than depicting anything related to the actual “horrors of war.” In fact, apart from the magazine’s final few pages, within which the Germans ‘drop’ a modified V2 rocket into the heart of the British Empire's capital, absolutely nothing of any particular importance takes place.

Such an uninspiring script does however still contain the occasional ‘stand out’ moment, as “the master author” provides plenty of hints and teases within his characters’ conversations as to what the future of his narrative may potentially have in store for the title’s 8,133 followers.

Foremost of these has to be the ‘unseen’ reveal by Stephanie at Bletchley Park of the Allies ‘new’ secret weapon, an enhanced human who is clearly capable of impressively horrifying their nervously inquisitive audience, even if the reader is not party to the actual sight themselves. Whilst the former computer games journalist also somehow manages to portray Adolf Hitler as being even more of a maniacal madman than he has been depicted before, with the Fuhrer dangerously insulting and goading the one-armed Battleship-class Ubermensch Siegmund during supper; “Hmm… A better craftsman than a warrior…Siegfried is a better man than you…”

Dishearteningly though, the vast majority of this periodical simply consists of talk, and whether it be the scientifically challenging gobbledegook of Stephanie’s ‘modified load technique’ or Sigfried’s insane glorification of dying in the service of the Third Reich, little of it is either entertaining or of particular interest.

Just as apathetic as the writing is regrettably Caanan White’s artwork. For whilst the African-American’s pencilling is competent enough, with the furrowed frowning visage of Germany’s lunatic leader being especially well-drawn during his fraught meal with Werner, the lion’s share of his panels lack any actual energy or suggestion of movement and instead appear to be comprised of little more than simple, static poses with plenty of wide eyes and grim unsmiling faces.
The variant cover art of "UBER" No. 10 by Gabriel Andrade

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Lando #1 - Marvel Comics

LANDO No. 1, September 2015
Despite featuring a titular character “chosen” as the eleventh top “Star Wars” character by “Image Games Network” it is hard to imagine that this opening instalment of a five issue “Marvel Worldwide” mini-series managed to sell an astonishing 192, 949 copies upon its release in July 2015. For whilst actor Billy Dee Williams imbued the Cloud City administrator with both the wily charm and dazzling charisma of a space-faring scoundrel, writer Charles Soule disappointingly depicts the “man trying to make his way through an uncaring universe” as little more than a weak-willed cowardly loser who supposedly believes that “Blasters are for suckers. People with no imagination.”

Admittedly the New York Times best-selling author’s incarnation of the “prodigious gambler” isn’t necessarily unlikable or disagreeable. Indeed Calrissian demonstrates all of his silver screen counterpart’s simmering magnetism by wooing a murderous Imperial Governor into giving him one of her valuable trinkets; "I'm betting that the woman I love is real. That she can be more than just a tool [of the Emperor]."

Dishearteningly however, the kind-hearted thief then simply ‘gives up’ the prize he’s just ‘bet his life upon’ rather than confront the double-crossing gangster Papa Toren and instead agrees to steal a “pleasure craft for some rich imperial” in order to finally ‘clear his debt’. Such an easily rattled weakling is most definitely unrecognisable as the man who would approximately three years later bravely battle against both Darth Vader and the full might of the Galactic Empire.  

Unfortunately such a disappointing interpretation of this roguish adventurer is disconcertingly the actual highpoint of Soule’s sedentary script, as the book’s final third suddenly resembles a narrative ‘stolen’ from the imagination of Akira Kurosawa. In fact the Brooklyn-born attorney’s decision to have Lando, along with long-time friend Lobot, suddenly be accompanied by a pair of ninja-like black panther people and a cybernetically-eyed Ugnaut in their act of piracy is easily as bizarre a plot-twist as their mission to steal Emperor Palpatine’s space vessel is depicted as being unforgivably easy.

Equally as substandard has to be the amateurish-looking artwork of legendary “Daredevil” illustrator Alex Maleev. The Bulgarian painter’s panels lack any appreciable vitality, with Calrissian’s physical appearance in particular most notably suffering from wooden, robotic poses and even the occasional missing facial feature.
The regular cover art of "LANDO" No. 1 by Alex Maleev and Edgar Delgado

Monday, 10 August 2015

Wytches #6 - Image Comics

WYTCHES No. 6, May 2015
It is genuinely rare that a comic will contain so shocking and surprising a narrative that it requires an immediate second reading, simply in order to allow the bibliophile’s brain to comprehend and accept what they’ve just perused. Issue Six of “Wytches” is arguably capable of having just this affect though and in many ways makes Scott Snyder’s stated belief that this title “was going to be a dark one” a considerable understatement.

Weighing in with a hefty thirty-two pages, this edition’s storyline immediately throws Charlie Rooks and his daughter ‘straight in at the deep end’ as they tentatively but determinedly scour the seemingly endless tunnels of the title’s flesh-eating wytches for a way back to the ‘safety’ of the surface. Such a terrifying, scare-a-minute trek through the claustrophobically dark maze-like underground warren is perturbingly pulse-pounding and it is hard to imagine a more chillingly creepy beginning to a book than the opening third of this series’ concluding instalment.

However the dread felt as the magazine’s main protagonists encounter the necromancers truly hideous cannibal elders is as nothing when compared to the sense of sheer stark horror conveyed by the American author once the couple are actually attacked by the carnivorous ghouls and make a hair-raising dash up the tangled insides of a tree in order to escape the bulbous-eyed monsters. Such frantic fast-paced action is disappointingly over after just four pages. But for a short while at least, the New Yorker’s narrative is actually scary enough to stop all but the most-hardened of horror fans from taking a breath.

Having already raised the adrenalin-levels of this comic’s 34,259 strong audience, Snyder then manages to stun and astound them even further by revealing that Sailor was pledged to the grey-skinned monstrosities living in the wood by her very own mother, Lucy, just so the wheelchair bound invalid could walk again. The cold-hearted calculating killer has even ‘already packed her daughter’s things together’ so that when her offspring is devoured both parents can “just… burn the box” and “won’t even remember she [Sailor] existed.”

Numbed by such deplorable selfish treachery and choked by the pitiful look within the young girl’s tearful eyes as she begins to comprehend her mother’s betrayal, what follows next is the very best in heart-rending melodrama as the father chooses his ‘little girl’s life’ over that of a having “another chance” with his “healed” wife, and sacrifices himself to the “chit chit” gnashing teeth and claws of the demonic wytches; “Calling all monsters! I’m coming for you! Because I’m Charlie Rooks! Proud father of the greatest slayer of mythological beasts of all time!!”
Story: Scott Snyder, Art: Jock, and Colors: Matt Hollingsworth

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Daredevil #12 - Marvel Comics

DAREDEVIL No. 12, March 2015
Having spent a considerable amount of time in the previous edition building up a sentimentally sympathetic backstory to the plight of the original Stunt-Master, and accruing almost a thousand new readers as a result, Issue Twelve of “Daredevil” proves a somewhat disappointingly choppy concluding instalment. Indeed it is hard to imagine a more contrived and convoluted narrative than Mark Waid’s premise of George Smith faking his own suicide in order to ‘mastermind’ a triumphant return to the public spotlight as “the ultimate Man Without Fear.”

Such unnecessary plot twists, like the television actor having to consume a supposedly fatal concoction of drugs in order to prevent Hornhead from detecting his lies or the costly head-scratching lengths the elderly stuntman goes to just to create a false history of “poverty… lawsuits and countersuits”, makes little actual sense. Especially when it’s revealed that Smith spent his entire lifetime's fortune funding the scheme simply in order to attain the title of “The Greatest Death-Cheater of All Time!”; “It’s not about the money! It’s about showmanship!”

Arguably it would appear that the Eisner Award-winning author wasn’t necessarily all that convinced with this periodical’s twenty-page script either, as Daredevil’s heart-pounding motorcycle race “seven hundred feet above the Golden Gate Strait” is cut dishearteningly short by the crimefighter throwing himself and his ride off of the bridge moments before the ‘new’ Stunt-Master impetuously self-destructs the superhero’s bike. This all-too sudden climax to a ‘set-piece’ which promised plenty of thrills, is instead replaced with the visionless lawyer ludicrously chasing down the ‘villain of the piece’ in a convertible whilst using his extendible batons to both steer and push the car’s throttle… The resultant pursuit of the motorcyclist, through rush hour traffic, is as preposterous-looking as it is impossible, and it is little wonder that the Alabama-born writer turns a blind eye to the fact that a Cadillac-sized automobile somehow manages to outpace a motorbike through the heavily congested streets of San Francisco.

Fortunately regular artist Chris Samnee provides plenty of dynamic, lively panels for such a somewhat relentless action-packed comic book. Fortuitously forgetting the ‘laws of physics’ the former pizza cook pencils Daredevil in some truly outlandish poses, and even somehow manages to illustrate, through the titular character’s body language, just how increasingly angry he is becoming as his ‘prey’ continuously eludes him.
Storytellers: Mark Waid & Chris Samnee, and Colorist: Matthew Wilson

Saturday, 8 August 2015

He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe #3 - DC Comics

HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE No. 3, August 2013
Based upon the Eighties American animated television series by “Filmation”, this rather fraught attempt to depict the adventures of He-Man and the realm of Eternia to a more mature readership proves a disappointing experience. Predominantly because Keith Giffen’s stilted lack-lustre narrative arguably settles upon a confusing middle-ground, which is neither seriously written science fiction nor corny tongue-in-cheek adolescent bumf.

Indeed it’s really hard to decide just what audience this somewhat short-lived “DC Comics” ‘ongoing’ series was targeting, especially when “Siege!” begins with Teela childishly bantering with Prince Adam about an “imaginary” female friend she had as a youngster because “kids my age gave me gas”. This incredibly dialogue-heavy opening even goes so far as to have the spikey Captain of the Royal Guard threaten King Randor’s son when he jests that it’s hard to ‘picture her ever being cautious’.

Such playful, teasing dialogue is actually rather well-written by Giffen and arguably establishes a rather juvenile easy-going tone to the comic book’s proceedings which is not unlike that of the cult cartoon itself. Unfortunately however this ‘ambience of long-lost childhood’ is abruptly replaced within the space of a few pages by the portrayal of an understandably distraught Man-At-Arms who is grief-stricken at the abduction of his daughter by Hordak’s evil Horde.

In fact there’s absolutely nothing to ‘laugh about’ at all once She-Ra's archnemesis initiates an attack upon Castle Greyskull, and the storyline’s seriousness is quite considerably ‘ramped up’ to the point where a grim-faced He-Man is forced to remind the usually dutiful Duncan of his obligations as the “General of the Guard and a Defender of the Realm”... And is then himself ‘chastised’ by his own father because the heavily-muscled warrior swears to get his friend back; “I forbid it… You have every intention of setting off after Teela. You are needed here. Eternia has greater need of you. As your King I command you to stay.”

Equally as disappointing as the magazine’s inconsistent mood, is the somewhat scratchy sketchings of Pop Mhan and Mateo Guerrero. This artistic coupling, comprising of a Bangkok-born penciller and Spanish cartoonist, admittedly provides plenty of dynamic action-packed panels throughout the twenty-page periodical. But the roughly-drawn figures with their rather ugly facial features are far from ‘pleasing to the eye’ and arguably look like a collection of draft scribblings prised from an artist’s practice book than artwork genuinely intended for publication.
Writer: Keith Giffen, and Art: Pop Mhan and Mateo Guerrero